Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Near Boston, Massachusetts
My woodworking bench is just over 4x2 (roughly 4'3"x2'3/4"). The vise probably sticks off the front about 8 inches, but I've been thinking that if I build another I might replace it with a hook and holdfasts. For handtool work on small projects, it's entirely adequate; in fact, I'm planning another, which will be 5' long, but only about 20" front to back, plus the hook. If you're using hand tools, that's more than big enough.
As to storing the tools: it depends how you do it. If you just put them on plastic shelves in a non-climate controlled space, they're likely to collect condensation. On the other hand, if you build a reasonably sealed (we're talking "keep dust out", not "keep air out") toolbox and put some silica gel packets inside, they might very well be fine. I've stored all my tools in an unheated garage for years, and I've only found rust on a couple that I didn't put away properly. I live in Massachusetts, with a temperature range probably from about 0 to about 100, and plenty of rain and snow. Can I guarantee that you'll have the same luck? Nope! But you might.
Now, that said, here's what I would recommend in your place:
Build the small bench. Put it on a set of retractable rollers so you can get it in and out of the inside closet. Build a toolchest that fits into one end of the closet, and use the other end to store wood. Get some of those rubber floor mats (the ones they sell for people who have to stand on hard floors all day; I like the interlocking tile type) to protect the floor. Enjoy your ability to work in all weather, and learn to use almost entirely human-powered tools. It's a good workout, and working in the house builds good habits, like sweeping the dust and shavings off the floor every time you finish working for the day. Get a circular saw, speed square, and 8' fence for breaking down large stock, and a high-quality electric drill for drilling lots of holes. I have a cordless saw that works great on most things, and I had a cordless drill that was fantastic until I abused it enough to kill it. Both are Ryobi, and the drill worked fine up until I used it to drive that twenty-somethingth 8" TimberLok screw....