Storing your LEGO

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So I just recently was asked on my Facebook page about how to properly store your LEGO. What’s the best way to sort them? By part? By color? By kits? Just dump it all in a box?

Well, I wish there was a simple solution, some magical formula that I could give you that would instantly be the answer. Unfortnately, as most AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO) know, there is no magic formula. And sorting and storing your LEGO will change as your collection changes (and most likely grows).

The solutions that worked for me when I was a child, heck the solutions that worked even 5-10 years ago, won’t work for me now and I will have to reevaluate it probably in another 5 years or so — if not sooner.

When I was a kid, I kept all my LEGO in one box, but early on I realized how frustrating it was to find that one particular piece, as it was always at the bottom of the box. So by age 11 I had started sorting my LEGO to a small degree.

Now, I sort and store my LEGO by part and color. My storage system is certainly on the extreme side, very similar to the storage system that I had when I was a Master Model Builder at LEGOLAND California. But I need such a system as I literally build day in and day out. I have to know where all my parts are at all times.

Most of my LEGO are in drawers like these
LEGO Room 6

And my desk looks like this
LEGO Room 2

LEGO Room 3

Now it is rarely this clean, as I tend to be a messy builder.

When I was younger I just had 4 of these “nuts and bolts” drawers (I call them that since you usually find them in hardware stores) where I stored all my little LEGO elements — weapons, feathers, food, etc. As you can see that set of 4 has grown…

Here’s a close up of the “nuts and bolts” drawers
LEGO Storage 4

I also have a fairly large collection of these official LEGO storage drawers (which unfortunately they are phasing out)

LEGO Storage 2

I like to keep one element per set of trays, its a nice way of seeing how many of what color you have.

I have a lot of the LEGO drawers and containers, as you can see in this picture.
LEGO Room 1

This is in no way all my LEGO, and I have tons that still needs sorting (which is a constant problem for me).

But enough about me, what’s the best thing for you to do? Well as most of you probably don’t have quite as much LEGO as I do, there are some steps you can take to solve your storage problems.

1) Sort by part, not color — its much easier to find a particular color in a bin than a particular element type in a sea of one color. You don’t have to have everything super sorted like I have it. You can put similar things together — technic parts, tiles, clips, etc.

2) If it is your child’s collection, involve them in the sorting and storage process or it will never work — You can have all the LEGO perfectly sorted for your child, but unless they are involved, and actively sorting the bricks themselves, it won’t work. The only reason my LEGO sorting has worked for over 25 years is that I was the one who initiated it when I was younger. My parents didn’t care how I stored my LEGO, but I did, as I took my collection seriously from a very early age.

3) Don’t keep your LEGO sorted by kit — unless you are an adult collector that wants to keep them organized this way, I highly discourage keeping your LEGO by the kits they came in. The whole point of LEGO is to mix them up. The new LEGO Movie addresses this very issue.

4) Sort them by how you build — depending on your building style, that can determine your sorting and storage system. If you are a car builder you want lots of wheels, tires, rims, etc. If you build castles you want castle walls, gray elements, roof elements, etc. Since I build anything and everything, that is why I have a super sorted collection. But the things I use with regularity — bricks, plates, tiles, etc — are in the easy to reach places while the things I hardly ever use — castle parts, technic, wheels, etc — are accessible, but not in easy reach.

5) Start your storage and sorting small — You don’t have to do it all at once. I’ve been doing it since I was 11, and my storage system is constantly changing as my collection grows and fluctuates. You can just get a few “nuts and bolts” drawers, a few containers. Then as your collection changes your storage can change.

As a side note there are a couple Flickr groups about LEGO sorting — LEGO Storage Extravaganza and LEGO Sorting

So, what do you do to sort and store your LEGO?

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6 Responses to “Storing your LEGO”

  1. Alexander C. (AFOL's of Facebook Founder/President) Says:

    I hope a couple of big ole maximum sized 18 wheelers pull up to your house and put a whole bunch of crated tubs o’ Random Lego and Lego sets n’ such on your door step and has the decency to leave you a box that has a pare o’ leather gloves, Safety Glasses/Goggles, Pliers, and a Crow bar to open the crates.

  2. Miguel Says:

    Good article.

    I pretty much came to the same conclusion. I recently sorted my technic beams ( around 10,000 ) but the same approach won’t work for LEGO bricks. I were going to order by part but keeping different big parts together… I just hate to look for that little 1×1 plate on the bag.

  3. Brad Says:

    Are those TRU “project cases” actually useful, then? I think I see I pretty tall column of them on the left side of your last picture.

  4. Mariann Asanuma Says:

    I prefer the LEGO drawers to the cases, but I find both pretty useful. I mainly put a single element per case — 1x6x2 arches, 4×8 plates, etc. Elements that I have a larger amount of.

  5. Arby - Legogirl Says:

    we( the kids) have theirs sorted in to ‘nuts and bolt’ cases, like the drawers but more portable. They stack for easy storage under the beds. I agree storage is always changing depending on space and pieces. We sort by brick type and colour where space permits. But I too grew up with it all in one big box. It was annoying to find that teeny tiny small 1×1 piece in the bottom, but there is still something satisfying about the noise of lego being pushed around in a box to find the piece you want.

  6. Antoinette Says:

    I have a mini version of your storage method. I just reorganized my collection into two large bookcases and one half the size of the other two. I sort by part then color because I hate when I can’t find something. I love the nuts ‘n’ bolts storage as well. Very handy.

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