Sorting LEGO – how do you actually get it done?

Dunechaser's sigfigHaving a consistent system for sorting and storing your LEGO collection makes your pieces much more accessible while building. Most LEGO builders eventually figure out a system that works for them. In fact, it’s something we discuss at length among ourselves, both at conventions and on the web. Most people seem to sort by element rather than by color, for example.

What I don’t hear a lot of talk about is actually how to go about sorting one’s LEGO — other than sustained frustration about its necessity. At what point do you know you need to sort? When do you sort? How long do you spend sorting at one sitting? Where do you do it — in a dedicated LEGO space, sitting on the couch, at the dining room table? Do you have anybody to help you?

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m going through a major sorting phase, largely because my collection had outgrown the system I’d been using, and any creation not based entirely on a pre-sorted Bricklink order became painfully time-consuming.

Well, I started by taking apart the LEGO sets (and any models I don’t want to keep) that I’d built but never disassembled over the past three or four years, and dumped it all in bins. Next, my wife and visiting mother-in-law kindly volunteered to pre-sort what I’d taken apart into bricks (“Aren’t they all bricks?”), plates (“flat bits”), slopes (“slopey bits”), and “everything else.” (World Cup soccer and Seattle Mariners baseball have been good background entertainment for all of us.) When we had enough of each of these, I then “sub-sorted” into finer categories, like regular, inverted, and curved slopes.

The two major lessons I’ve learned so far from my ongoing sorting are that every extra pair of hands helps, and that the pre-sort/sub-sort approach gets pretty much everything but the “fiddly bits” where they belong fairly quickly. It’s also clear that you can never have enough clear storage bins…

So, dear readers, how have you overcome that mountain of unsorted LEGO?

Posted in Building Techniques, Essay, lego, LEGO News Around The Web and tagged , , .