HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

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How do you store your Lego?

I hide pieces around the house for people to step on.
0
No votes
I throw it all in a big bin
1
7%
I keep all my sets separate from each other and don't mix them
0
No votes
I sort it into several bins by color
0
No votes
I sort by parts and by color into several containers
3
21%
I sort by part and by color into a drawer or cabinet type system or shelf unit.
8
57%
I sort by part and/or color and store all in baggies
0
No votes
I'm OCD and I store each individual piece in its own sealed baggie to keep it safe from the world!
1
7%
I haven't had to pick a storage option as all or most of my Lego is still sealed!
1
7%
 
Total votes: 14
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TheRebricker
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HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby TheRebricker » Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:51 am

Disclaimer: This is simply my findings and NOT a list of commandments on Lego sorting. Use what you want, change what you want, and do what works best for your unique collection!

After several people over the years have asked me how I sort and store my Lego, and after reading so many articles on the topic online, I figured it was time I write my own.

So the questions comes up: How do you sort and store your Lego? Well unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question as there are several things that will sway the answer as you will see in the suggested sorting options.

Something I recommend and you may want to consider, depending on your age and your building style, it may be helpful to also build an inventory of your collection. If you start early on it isn't too much work to keep it up. That way without even digging for parts, you already know what you have! To do so, I HIGHLY recommend using http://www.Rebrickable.com

Now on to sorting:

INTRO COLLECTION (<2,500 pieces)
If your collection is this small, you likely are a passive builder, have a few sets, or are still fairly young in your collecting. That's okay, this is the easy point in your Lego life! For a collection like this, I'd recommend using a single container, big enough to hold your collection. A couple of suggestions could be:

A Lay-N-Go matt / drawstring bag
http://www.amazon.com/Lay-n-Go-Original-Activity-Mat-Blue/dp/B007BO5OAY

or the simpler method: an old bed sheet in a box. Put all your Lego on the sheet and when you are done building, grab all four corners, pick it up and place it inside a box. Makes cleanup SUPER FAST!

SMALL COLLECTION (2,500 - 5,000 pieces)
Once your collection gets to be this large, you will find digging through a large pile of parts time consuming and will detract from the overall building experience. At this size, as a kid, I used my bottom dresser drawer. I taped in cardboard dividers to create compartments in my drawer and I sorter my pieces by color. At that time I had 6 sections: Red and Yellow were largest then I had Black (which shared brown), White (which shared clear and grey), Blue and then a mixed section for small quantity colors. I'm sure you can tell that was a long time ago though when there wasn't such a beautiful palette of colors. Though now you could group color families together such as red, dark red, brown / blue and all shades of blue / white, grey, dark grey / Yellow, Orange, Pink / All Shades of Green along with Tan... you get the picture. This way when you are looking for a part, you are cutting the parts you are searching through back down under several hundred pieces instead of digging through the whole collection.

MEDIUM COLLECTION (5,000 - 50,000 pieces)
Now that you are getting into a larger collection, this is where sorting becomes important, time consuming and sometimes tricky. There are several methods, and as you grow through this range, you will find your collection will evolve in how it is sorted and stored. You should find this will happen organically depending on the themes your collect and your favorite build styles.

At this point I recommend containers for your Lego collection. Preferably containers with dividers so you can expand certain sections to hold more pieces as you get more. Depending on the quantity of parts you have of a certain piece, you may also want to subdivide it by color. I tend to do this when a piece type exceeds my largest bin, or it becomes too hard to find a part. I will either sort out the one largest quantity color of a certain part, or split the parts into two groups: Colors and Grey scales (White, grey, dark grey, black). So far this has always worked well, except when I acquired hundreds of blue bricks for the TARDIS my wife was building, at which point I sorted the Blue bricks out.

For this stage of my collection I ended up using a few different Stanley Hardware organizers:

Great for small parts, 1x1 plates, both square and round.
http://www.rona.ca/en/organizer-set

Great for technic parts: gears, PERFECT for axles, connectors and PINS if you don't have too many.
https://www.homedepot.ca/en/home/p.14-25-compartment-organizer.1000417117.html

Great for all things brick, plates, and large quantity parts.
http://www.rona.ca/en/organizer-set-81295044

LARGE COLLECTION (50,000+ pieces)
My collection has just graduated into the LARGE department. The largest my collection has ever been. After much deliberation I have selected my storage solution. Here are some of the criteria I used when selecting my final plan:
  • Space: I wanted to maximize storage space without taking up too much of my valuable room space. (Apartment living)
  • Style: It had to look good, clean and tidy as this room is off the entry and everyone coming over would see it first, so it has to clean up well.
  • Versatility: it would need to grow along with my collection
I have seen a few others in the VLC went with the Alex drawer units from Ikea and I love their look. Most are available in White (like TLG uses) and Black-Brown (which goes better with my decor). They are far cheaper than professional Flat Drawers as used in architecture and art facilities, and are extremely solid!

http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/50255287/
http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/50264927/
http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/20291121/#/00291122

I find the surface that several of them together makes is great. They do not scratch easily (in fact I have yet to scratch them) and the drawers are on really nice sliders! The drawers aren't too deep so that it won't be like digging through a massive bin looking for the right parts.

The next aspect of this process was to find containers that fit inside. Considerations for this included:
  • Size: They needed to be useful sizes for Lego elements
  • Straight sides: I didn't want there to be wasted space from tapered containers, or round containers.
  • Thickness: The containers had to waste as little space as possible in their own construction.
  • Various Sizes: I wanted containers that although came in various sizes would be interchangeable. So for example two of a smaller container would be the same width as one of a larger container...etc.
  • Price: Didn't want to blow a huge amount of money on these
I searched for a long time before I found what I was looking for. The ones I selected come in two depths, but I use the tallest ones as they provide the best solution in my criteria. They fit perfectly in the shallow drawers, and in the deep drawers can be stacked 2 high giving great versatility when storing a growing collection.

The bins can be purchased locally at Lee Valley (a pretty cool store if you are at all handy and have never been there, CHECK THEM OUT!) They have locations all across Canada. The bins I use are from a German company that makes hardware storage containers and these are the individual inserts that can be purchased separately:

http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/page.aspx?p=70893&cat=1,43326

I recommend the 62mm size. I picked up 10 of each to test the system and am very happy with the results. I will be picking up more shortly. I also have requested Lee Valley bring in the one size larger bin that comes in Grey. It's 4 times longer than a red bin and twice as wide as a red bin.

The IKEA Alex drawers I am using (the narrow cabinet) can handle 5 red bins wide by 9 red bins deep with about 1 inch of spare space on the side and 1.5 inches of spare space in front or back. This extra space is great to slide bins a little to be able to pull them out, or to store long awkward pieces. The various available bin sizes are: red: about 2" x 2", yellow: 1x2 red bins, blue: 2x2 red bins, and Green (2x3 red bins) and the grey bins listed above are being looked into. If they become available I will update this thread.

If you buy 10 or more at a time of any one bin type, Lee Valley gives a discount of about 12% (so it's like saving the tax)

These bins are super handy as you can pull out only the elements you need when building or when sorting. If you run out of space in a bin, it's easy to pour the contents of the full bin into a larger bin, or split it into a couple bins.

If your collection outgrows the beneficial size of a bin, consider putting some parts in a bin and the rest in a larger overflow container until they are needed, thus keeping a broad selection of all parts readily available for your building needs. I tend to group elements per drawer, so all 1xN plates in one drawer, 2xN plates in another, tehcnic beams in another etc... sort your collection in a way that makes sense to you!

Additionally, I just discovered something else: the wood used for the Alex cabinets it two studs wide. If you ever see an official Lego drawer system when Lego offices are shown they tend to have a plate on the outside that shows what is in the drawer. It appears these drawers were designed for exactly this! Check out a few photos:

image.jpeg
image.jpeg
image.jpeg
image.jpeg
image.jpeg



Well, there you have it! I hope this has been helpful to those starting out. This is as far as my collection has grown, but I do know there are some in the club who have far larger collections, and extensive storage solutions that work best with their needs. I only hope this current setup lasts me a long time and is able to grow as needed for the foreseeable near future.
Last edited by TheRebricker on Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
- Jason
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Kyler
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby Kyler » Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:56 pm

Where's the "I haven't had to pick a storage option yet as my LEGO is still sealed in original boxes" option? rotflol
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TheRebricker
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby TheRebricker » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:28 pm

Kyler wrote:Where's the "I haven't had to pick a storage option yet as my LEGO is still sealed in original boxes" option? rotflol


Fixed. But I only expect one vote for that one.
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby TroopaDee » Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:21 pm

Hmm, interesting findings, especially the Alex cabinet fitting the Lego pieces on the handle. I voted for "I sort by part and by color into a drawer or cabinet type system or shelf unit." I have a medium collection (I'm probably quite close to the 50,000 piece mark) and I currently use a mix of the voting options; drawer/cabinets by part or colour, bins by colour, containers, organizers, and baggies. In some of the bigger bins I have smaller tubs or dividers to separate different kinds of pieces. I should probably be looking to get a better storage solution as I've been buying way more pieces and sets recently, but what I have right now I've got these and they've worked well for me:
These for smaller pieces (pins, accessories, etc)
http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/maste ... kwD9XJdHIU
I've got a few of these which are not as space efficient as I'd like, but I put pieces at the bottom of the bigger ones and then I just baggie stuff on top of them
http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/graci ... kwHhHJdHIU
And I've got a ton of these, they are cheap but they do not have dividers so I try to make each one specific for a type of part or colour (eg. big plates only) or use cardboard dividers that I made. http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/kis-o ... kwHpXJdHIU
I also have some organizers but I can't remember where I got them from. Although they're definitely not as good as the ones you have.
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby DeGobbi » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:49 am

As sorting is such a personal preference its very difficult for any one system to be the best . Many consider my system to be very high on the list for effectiveness but to me it comes down to goals you should set out for your system whatever it is

1 - Be able to to expand - Have your system be able to absorb large amounts of brick of the same time . As afol when we first start out we buy sets usually that have 1000+ pieces of which we have many 200 types of parts so they sort into a lot of bins and they will not fill up usually except for large pieces . As soon as your join a LUG or begin buying PaB wall cups worth of stuff , doing drafts and get in on bulk orders , you will begin to acquire brick in amounts your system wasn't originally design to handle . so having a system that can very easily expand and shift elements from one size tray to another is ideal . Also means having many different sizes of bins to handle different amounts of certain elements

2 - Be able to find the piece you are looking for in 15 seconds or under - Having a target time to be able to find any piece at anytime in your collection and to be able to know how many your have roughly is an excellent goal for any afol . if in your Lego room and someone asks 1x4 dark green plate your should be able find it with in that time , 10 seconds is even better . This is why i like transparent bins as you can look from the bottom and see colors hiding on bottom . when looking for a piece i dump out elements from a bin http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/50043573/ into a tray
http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/page.a ... at=3,41306
, gather bricks i need that dump back in
this is an example of not to do cause the trays on the bottom require way to much work to get too
https://www.google.ca/url?sa=i&rct=j&q= ... 7702563312

3 - Color / shape - we all sorta do both a bit , with new friends and elves color its hard to justify to spread out all your lime green among 48 bins instead all in one . i think for small amounts it can be worth it to keep all your funky colors in the same bin till a point . just be prepared to sort them in later to your regular shape system so don't complain .

4 - your system should be good looking - some people might disagree on this one but your system should be able to have people over and not be ashamed of your Lego cause its freaking everywhere and you look like you should be more on an episode of " hoarders buried alive " . but where would your rather be here https://www.flickr.com/photos/pepa_quin ... 185890950/
or here
http://s1148.photobucket.com/user/Ross_ ... o.jpg.html

5 - be cost effective - yes we need to spend money on sorting , but lets not go crazy . keeping things durable , cost efficient and expandable ( don't base your entire system on something might not be produced later ).

6 - be able to build with others - its always fun to share our hobby with others so if anyone can walk in a build with your system after a bit of orientation then its a good system .

Any way my 2 cents
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D_R_Watson
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby D_R_Watson » Sat Mar 12, 2016 12:47 pm

Since it seems everyone's collection grows. Does anyone have any spare/old storage cases for a small-medium sized collection that they don't need anymore?
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby Malfortune » Sun Mar 13, 2016 1:09 am

Home Depot has these fantastic containers for $0.97 each. They're stackable, 12" (L) 7" (W) 4.5" (T) and completely transparent. I picked up 30, I think I may pick up another 20 next time I get paid.
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby ssential-bricks » Sun Mar 13, 2016 11:23 am

We need another option for "my spouse sorts all the Lego and I reap the benefits"

Though again, one vote. I help sort the Lego as it comes into the house
Last edited by ssential-bricks on Tue Mar 15, 2016 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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chump
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby chump » Sun Mar 13, 2016 1:06 pm

ssential-bricks wrote:We need another option for "my sprouse sorts all the Lego and I reap the benefits"

Though again, one vote. I help sort the Lego as it comes into the house



Remind me which spouse are you in this scenario? :)
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby AC » Sun Mar 13, 2016 2:58 pm

She is the sorter. I call dibs on her help when she finishes getting Jason's sorted. rotflol
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby chump » Sun Mar 13, 2016 4:14 pm

AC wrote:She is the sorter. I call dibs on her help when she finishes getting Jason's sorted. rotflol


I think she'll say it's going to take a lifetime getting Jason sorted.

I believe kodakcole also self identified as a sorter.
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Re: HOW TO: Lego sorting and collection storage.

Postby ssential-bricks » Tue Mar 15, 2016 12:15 pm

Sadly because I work outside of the home, Jason's already sorted his recent lego acquisition - inventory and shelved. :woo: The advantage of working from home next to the collection I guess.

But honest...I do like to sort! :mrgreen:
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