Embarking on the Lego Sorting Journey

Transforming Spaces for Growing Collection

We all want one, we all dream of one, yet we are mostly denied our very own Lego room. Well DigsForFigs has been going long enough, and our little Lego loving children have been bought enough Birthday and Christmas presents that my wife was unable to hold it off any longer. We now have an official Lego room. Well it was always sort of a Lego room, ever since we moved the TV and it stopped being our cinema room and became the play room. Lego has always featured, but recently I decided I had to take the next step.

When you start collecting Lego you are likely to end up with more Lego, and then more, and then more. This doesn’t stop. I’m 45 and I’m still getting more every year. The question becomes how best to store it. Well, if I was only interested in buying, building and displaying sets then maybe I’d just keep them all built or packed away in their boxes. But I’m not like that, I have over the years bought many job-lots of 2nd hand Lego from people. This means I have lots of unbuilt sets and lots of pieces that may have once come from a set but there full set is not there. Also I have children that like to free build and that, to me, is the best thing about Lego. So I’ve ended up with a big old pile of it. How best to sort.

There are several options depending on how much lego you have, and typically it will follow a pattern similar to this

  1. A big box
  2. Several boxes
  3. Sorting by colour
  4. Sorting by piece type
  5. Sorting by exact piece
  6. Sorting by piece and colour

Now, I think only the very advanced will get to step 6, for most of us getting to 3 or 4 is the probable destination. And that is where I am. I don’t think I’ll ever reach level 6, I might, but it would require a lot more time, a lot more drawers and potentially a lot more Lego (yay)

So how do I sort my Lego? I have finally progressed pass colour onto piece types. I don’t have enough containers to sort them all out into every single different piece, and there are still boxes of unsorted Lego, and also it often happens that my son will ‘play’ with the Lego and leave it all in a mess, so I have to spend hours sorting it out again. But we are finally getting there. And I’d like to take you on my journey.

Navigating Storage Solutions: Boxes to Drawers

It’s interesting really because it always starts with a box, a big box, then there are two boxes and eventually you have many boxes. At this point we purchased and Ikea Trofast with several brightly coloured trays. It worked well for a while, but we were quickly limited by the amount of Lego we could store and also the ability to sort it.

TROFAST Storage combination with boxes, white white, orange, 99x44x56 cm – IKEA

Then you need drawers and that’s when things get really interesting, or boring, depending on how you look at these things. I had my Lego in boxes, several large ones, but then I decided I needed more space so we went out and bought these really useful boxes drawers.

https://www.reallyusefulproducts.co.uk/uk/html/onlineshop/rub/rScrap06x9_5lDrawerTower.php

I had about 5 to start with in bright colours, but these were soon full, so we needed more. At one point I bought these inserts, wrongly thinking they would be useful in sorting within a drawer, but as they aren’t able to be individually removed it hasn’t proved that useful, but I do use them in certain places (more on that later)

Go Shopping – Really Useful Boxes – Accessories – Scrapbook Drawers hobby tray (15 section) (reallyusefulproducts.co.uk)

I also bought some of these small sorting drawers, I initially got two, but have since got two more. At first I used one of these to sort the minifigs only, as a minifig collector I have lots of pieces that either aren’t yet put together into their correct minifigs and displayed in one of our gorgeous large display frames, or are extra pieces or part of incomplete minifigs. So I filled one of these with minifig pieces. The other was left empty-ish for now, because I had to take on the actual sorting and that is where things got interesting.

VonHaus 44 Multi Drawer Organiser for Small Parts – DIY Tool Bits, Fixings, Fishing Tackle, Crafts – Black/Orange : Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools

Colour or Chaos: The sorting dilemma

At this point was sorting by colour, and that is where things got to, but a drawer full of black pieces is really hard to sort through unless you have night vision (which I don’t) so after filling about 10 drawers with different colours, I decided I had to move onto sorting by piece. Now this is not a small undertaking, and there is a lot to be considered, so I considered it and in the end I bought a load more drawers. So I’m not sure the exact number that I have but Lego have over 18’000 different pieces, obviously I don’t have the space to sort each piece into it’s own drawer (and we’re not even talking colour at this point) so I had to put types of pieces into the same drawer.

It started off easily enough I put bricks into one drawer, plates into another, but then the drawers filled up and it became, bricks in one and blocks in another (I consider a brick to be 1 by X and blocks to be anything over 1 by x (so a 2×4 brick would count as a block)) I also had to split up the plates, so I started putting non regular square/rectangle ones in a different drawer. This continued and I had all those ‘odd’ pieces that didn’t quite fit into a drawer with others. After the first few drawers of colours were sorted I had ended up with the following basic piece types

  • Bricks
  • Blocks
  • Plates
  • Corners
  • SNOT (Studs Not On Top)
  • Doors + Windows
  • Wheels
  • Vehicles
  • Slopes

This has now grown into

  • Bricks
  • Blocks
  • Slopes
  • Inverted Slopes
  • Plates Square
  • Plates Irregular
  • Plates 2 by X
  • Plates 1 by X
  • SNOT (Studs Not On Top)
  • Corners/hinges
  • Windows
  • Transparent
  • Vehicles
  • Wheels
  • Round Pieces
  • Large Plates
  • Modified Bricks*
  • Tiles
  • Modified Tiles
  • Technics
  • Technics Bricks

*this is where I used the tray insert I mentioned earlier, this drawer has sections for:-

  • Arches
  • Bricks like bricks
  • Bricks with lines
  • Bricks with rounds
  • Pillars
  • Those ones that fire things
  • And more

Drawer Dynamics: Managing the Lego Multiverse

So as you can see things quickly escalate, and on more than one occasion I have found a drawer filling up and had to go through it and split it into two drawers and change the labels. I actually have 3 drawers of slopes and 1 of inverted slopes, I have 2 of both bricks, blocks, 2 by X plates, round pieces. So I know there is scope for better sorting of these and breaking them down further so I only have one drawer of each type of slope (maybe by angle?45% 30% 60%)

Mini Drawers: The Universal Unsung Organisers

The smaller drawers began life for us as a Minifigure storage, it was a really good way to store the different parts of all the minifigs I had lying around. I was able to sort all the legs into different colours, and the hats separate from the hair. The yellow heads had their own drawer as did the non-yellow heads. It really helped (when I finally had time) to sort out and build up official figs from the bits I had lying around. Many years ago I purchased the minifigure directory (way out of date now!!) and it is still useful for the older figures and heads to work out to which torso they belong.

The smaller drawers were also great when it came to building up my own monofigs, as I had a drawer of hands and another one of arms. Whilst I reached this level with my minifigs the rest of my Lego collection lagged behind, so it was a good proving ground for the benefit of these smaller drawers.

They have been really useful and are the ones that my son uses most (to take pieces from, not to put them back) they are not all labelled, but that is mostly due to not knowing what to call the bits in them, or also have duplicates. They have been really useful for small things like 1×1 brick, or 1×2 plate, or tools and capes, but they are also very easy for my children to use when they want. I now have 4 of them and they have some gaps that I’m sure I will expand into, they don’t hold an awful lot (I have 2 drawers for my 1 by 2 plates at the moment) but for the smaller hard to find (and tedious to sort) pieces that are really useful. I know that this journey is not over and that there are probably more options available to me but at the moment it does make for a pretty good Lego room for me and the kids and we’re happier now that they are partially sorted, it’s just finding the time to sort the rest that is difficult.

The Ongoing Lego Sorting Adventure

This is an on-going process, it hasn’t stopped yet and I’m not sure when it will. There is still a lot of boxes to sort through, I recently bought another layer of drawers (I now have 30) and these are already filling up. I have a drawer with so many small pieces. You know what happens, when you sort the big pieces are the easiest to move, they are quick to sort, but as the sorting progresses you end up with a plethora of tiny pieces that all need to be sorted differently and so I have a drawer full and I’m reluctant to take it on.

It is a struggle to find the time, I have a full time job, a family and other hobbies that take up my time, but I do try to spend the odd evening (or weekend morning) just sorting through a drawer or box of Lego. It can be quite therapeutic, at times it is almost like a meditative task that requires just enough concentration to let the mind wander whilst you work. I am not sure when (if ever) the task will be finished and my wife is already discussing knocking down walls and turning the Lego Room into part of a kitchen diner. It might be that all the Lego (drawers and all) get banished relocated to the garage in the future. As long as the collection continues to grow and my children (and I) continue to build it can only benefit us all to have it sorted and organised appropriately.

I wish you all luck on your own sorting adventures, and would love to hear what challenges you have faced and how you overcame them.

Leave a Reply