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Board-feet for Lego?

tdhbrtdhbr Member Posts: 188
edited January 2012 in Building and Techniques
A few days ago I was painstakingly stacking 1x2's to fill a holiday PaB box and started thinking about board-feet ... probably many of you know the (U.S.) construction and woodworking term "board-feet," which is a generalized method of determining the amount of wood needed for a project, regardless of type and size of board. Is there, or could there be, a comparable unit for Lego?

Let's use a 1x1 brick as the basic unit, and call it a "nominal brick" (or Nob?). Then a 1x2 brick is 2 Nobs, a 2x4 brick is 8 nobs, etc. A 1x1 plate is 1/3 Nob, a 1x3 plate is 1 Nob, a 2x6 plate is 4 Nobs. Get it?

So a wall that is 16 studs long, 1 stud wide, and 10 layers high is 160 Nobs. In theory, you could make that wall with (80) 1x2's, or (40) 1x4's, or (20) 1x8's (ignoring requirements of stability, aesthetics, windows, etc). Obviously, a lot of pieces would be difficult (or impossible) to categorize this way - minifigures & accessories, a lot of detail parts, some wings and slopes. But while Part Count ignores sizes of pieces, "Nobs" could give an idea of ... mass, maybe?

For example, 10197 Fire Brigade has 2,231 pieces, and 21010 Robie House has 2,276. FB is obviously better on overall cost and cost per piece, using RRP - but I'm sure it's far better if you compared "Nobs" since Robie is virtually all plates.

So ... does this make any kind of sense? Has anyone tried anything like this? And, most importantly, does anyone care? Feel free to just nod and smile, and ignore my rambling.

(By the way, most of you know that the holiday PaB box is 11 studs x 11 studs x 9 layers - which comes out to 1,089 Nobs. Meaning you could fit 1,089 1x1 bricks into that box, if you cared to spend an hour stacking them perfectly).


  • LambringoLambringo Member Posts: 104
    I like your idea. I always read about people comparing price per piece but sometimes that does not provide an accurate comparison. Another good example would be something like the 10214 Tower Bridge.

    It would be difficult to calculate without creating a database with the 'nob' value of every brick and linking it to a site that inventories every set but i am sure there are people out there who could whip something up.

    Another idea could be to calculate how much water the set displaces, or simply the weight of the set, since almost all of the sets weight is ABS plastic and the common non ABS plastic parts such as wheels, metal rods, cloth or PF items could be assigned a different value.
  • mr_bennmr_benn United KingdomMember Posts: 860
    edited January 2012
    I must implore you to say 'studs' instead of 'nobs'... you probably aren't from the UK but it has a more phallic connotation here, which makes for tricky reading of your post ;-)

    Also, the idea doesn't quite work, because some pieces have a lot more 'depth' but only have one or two studs - a 2x2 dark red plate has the same number of stads as a 2x2x3 dark red slope tile (a la Cafe Corner) but I think we could agree that the value is considerably different!
  • vynsanevynsane Member Posts: 179
    I would say the 1x1 plate is the basic unit in LEGO (with the 1x1 round plate and new 1x1 round tile being basically the same thing).

    As mr_benn points out, though, this measurement system doesn't take into account the inherent value of more rare pieces like, say, a 1x3 curved slope brick - it would have the same "value" as a 1x2 brick in this type of equation (with a degree of variation due to the curve itself) but a 1x3 curved slope brick is easily more inherently valuable than a 1x2 brick due to rarity and usefulness.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    I don't think the idea was to convey value at all, merely volume. In this way, this idea or some variation of it, would work well.
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    BURPs have a lot of NOBs... or studs or whatever.

    Actually, if you want to calculate value with more granularity than price per piece, you could easily calculate the al a carte price of a set. The market value of individual pieces is known since there is a market for that. The part lists of sets are readily available. It is rather trivial to link the two together.
  • tdhbrtdhbr Member Posts: 188
    Thanks for the thoughts ... and apologies to @mr_benn and others for the terminology :).

    Just a couple follow-up comments - this was not intended as a way to calculate value of pieces themselves, just a companion comparison to Part Count. Also, it's not about counting studs, it's about the size of the piece(s) involved. We all know that (3) 2x2 plates stacked together = (1) 2x2 brick, so therefore a 2x2 plate is 1/3 the nominal unit of the brick. So a 2x6 plate, which equals (3) 2x2 plates, is also equivalent to a 2x2 brick.

    Determing the nominal units of slopes shouldn't be that hard. A 45 degree 1x2 slope is more than a 1x1 brick and less than a 1x2 - so we can call it 1.5 nominal brick units (or whatever the term might be).
  • Blue1dotBlue1dot Member Posts: 78
    @tdhbr: "Let's use a 1x1 brick as the basic unit, and call it a "nominal brick" (or Nob?). Then a 1x2 brick is 2 Nobs, a 2x4 brick is 8 nobs, etc. A 1x1 plate is 1/3 Nob, a 1x3 plate is 1 Nob, a 2x6 plate is 4 Nobs. Get it?"

    To my thinking, a 1x3 plate does not equal a 1x1 brick, rather 3(1x1) plates do. So maybe the basic unit is the 1x1 plate (the smallest unit), rather than the 1x1 brick. But I like the "nob" name. Maybe flat? As in 3 stacked (1) flat = 1 nob.

    I can see the value of it, as per your example, for some straight walls. Maybe develop a symbols-type Font or icons to capture > slopes, Y or K hooks, etc.
  • tdhbrtdhbr Member Posts: 188

    To my thinking, a 1x3 plate does not equal a 1x1 brick, rather 3(1x1) plates do.
    Correct, that's what I meant.
  • luckyrussluckyruss UKMember Posts: 872
    Yes, but 3 1x3 plates can equal 3 1x1 bricks (as can 9 1x1 plates).

    So 3X = 3Y but X not equal to Y?

    I like the idea though
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