Shopping at LEGO or Amazon?
Please use our links: LEGO.comAmazon
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

The sorting methodology thread!!



  • DfenzDfenz IrelandMember Posts: 41
    This topic has arisen from time to time elsewhere and always brings a smile to my face. I think this answer originally posted a few years back sums it up nicely for me
  • princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,768
    ^ that does indeed sum it up well.
    The question is.....what is the answer? :)
    I may try a brand new tactic, no sorting :)
    The OCD in me is terrified of sorting by type, I just know I would end up needing roughtly 50,000 seperate boxes. Gives you a sense of admiration of the huge warehouse system that TLG actually use with their robotic picking system, the team that put that together deserve some respect.
  • princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,768
    OK, was taking some photos of some grab bags last night so thought i would snap a couple of some of my boxes to show how my stuff is stored:
    Pic 1 - Tan boxed
    Pic 2 - Tan open with 3 trays of sorted pieces.
    Pic 3 - Red box open showing pieces in the bottom which are strange shapes or unsorted.
    Pic 4 - Started to sort my connectors etc..

    So kind of sorted by color and then by part, not sure how long this will be controllable.
    Each box is 9L and Black, White, Light Bley, Dark Bley and Yellow are already stuggling (really need at least 2 boxes).

    Anyway, thought someone may find it interesting.
  • korkor Member Posts: 392
    Heres a few close-ups of mine. I tend to sort by color first then by type. The more pieces I add to the collection the more I try to refine how its sorted so I can easily find things when I'm building.
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    That's a great system @princedraven. I might try the same, just need some stackable trays to fit into my current container drawers.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,285
    edited June 2011
    I sort by color as much as people think it is a 'poor choice' for lots I buy to turn around to sell. I'm sorry, but I simply do not have oodles of space available to have 15 bins/bags/etc lying around trying to have parts sorted by type.. to be honest it also takes more time... when sorting a Lot you plan to turn around and build back into sets anyways
    When sorting roughly by color first (Green goes in with Yellow for me, and white has tan and pink, etc) I get it down to about 6 bins and yes it is a bit difficult to find pieces at times, but again space considerations take precedence as I have more to do than just sort out Lego.
    Then for my own 'collection' (and parts not used in a lot I bought) I occasionally go through a bin at a time to sort out parts (based again on space available in my place) either way you are spending the same amount of time imo, it is just a matter of spend now, or spend it later?
    Plus again bags are nice for smaller pieces, and bins can get expensive (although Home Depot was selling plastic shoebox bins and lids for only a 1 USD per so that helped)

    It is a matter of preference and space and cost.. if you do not have much space (and do not mind occasional moments of frustration), sort by color. Then when you have space or can afford bins ( like the 44 drawer bins seen above) then sort by part...

    I also find that my preference for storage bin type change, I have a ton of the red Dacta trays with the pastic inserts.. they were good for a while but they really take up a lot of air and as a result I may ditch them in place of more part bins...
  • didgeboydidgeboy Member Posts: 8
    How about a label system for all of your small drawer bins? Anyone have something in LDD that can be used easily and cheaply? Cheers.
  • DiggydoesDiggydoes Cologne/GermanyMember Posts: 1,079
    edited April 2012
    After parting out 3 Modulars plus a few other 1000+ sets to fill the stock of my (pretty small) BL-Shop i start to wonder how you manage this massive amounts of various bricks? How do you sort them to find them when sold, and where to store?
    If this has been discussed please move this topic.
  • RennyRenny USAMember Posts: 1,145
    While I don't store Lego pieces I do play lots of high piece count board games that often times have hundreds of pieces to sort and order. I recommend using the following:

    Multi drawer cabinets:

    Or even fishing tackling boxes/trays made by Plano. I find those very flexible because you are able to choose where to place the dividers (for most trays).
  • korkor Member Posts: 392
    ^ Wow, I can get those exact drawer cabinets at Menards for 20.00!
  • RennyRenny USAMember Posts: 1,145
    I guess they weren't lying when they say "Save BIG money at Menaaaards" :)

    *sorry, I'm in a bit of a silly mood right now!
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,285
    ^ Wow, I can get those exact drawer cabinets at Menards for 20.00!
    Excatly, you are paying more for it saying LEGO on it Or Dacta...
    I get mine from Ace hardware. I think it is safe to say any hardware store has them, but I find while it works well for smaller parts bigger parts are a bit more difficult.
    I wound up getting $1 USD plastic 'shoe' boxes from Home Depot (although I'm guessing those are at every hardware store as well) to hold the larger plates and bigger pieces, plus they stack as well...
    OR you can go big and get somethings like this:
    I believe they used to have a bigger bin shelving unit, I just cannot find it
  • GalactusGalactus NLMember Posts: 260
    ^ all those parts racks are realy dust sensitive.
  • coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
    I like this topic very much, so I thought I'd share my way of sorting. Again, I agree there's no right or wrong into sorting, just what works best for you.

    I am doing a mix of color and type. Since my collection is a lot smaller than most people here, I can still manage it fairly easy.

    First of all, sets parts remain together. I am not a very good builder, so I figured I paid for a set, I better have all it's pieces together in one bag instead of parting the sets. This way, whenever I want to build it, I can just pour the pieces over the table and start working on them. I also keep the manuals in the same bags as the set parts, when possible. This works good for sets up to 300 parts. Letter size manuals for larger sets (500+ parts) are kept on a separate drawer. Sets are also split by themes, so I have a couple of large stackable Sterilite boxes for City Sets, a couple more for Creator sets and single boxes for Star Wars, Kingdoms, etc. Other than that, most of my sets are still MISB, so I don't have to worry much about them anyways.

    Now going into parts, I've been getting many PaB recently, plus a few grab bags here and there, so I had to figure a system out. I tried pretty much everything, but right now what works for me is a mix of boxes, clear bags and Microsoft Excel. Yes, with a little help of technology I manage to keep track of what I have, so this way I can have access to "my collection" everywhere I am, like a LEGO Store, for example, when buying elements from the PaB wall.

    My pieces that are not part of a set are separated by color, then type. Special types of parts/bricks are then sorted by type only, like minifig accessories, small tiles, chairs, technic parts, tyres, wheels and things like that.

    So whenever I get a new grab bag, or PaB container filled with parts, I first split the bricks, plates, slopes, and then the rest into 4 different groups into 4 different sorting trays. Then I get the bricks and split them by color. After splitting them by color, I open my Excel Spreadsheet and update info on the bricks by size and color, and put them into bag of similar parts, those bags go then into the boxes of parts of the same color. I repeat the same for plates and slopes of all colors. This process allow me to have 2x2, 2x3, 2x4, 2x6, 2x8 and 2x10 bricks of the same color into the same bag for example. If I need 10 of the 2x3 for a build, I look into my Excel file and I know if I have them, so I don't waste time looking into the bag for something I don't have. The same goes for plates and slopes. If I have more than 100 of the same part, then I move that type of part to it's own bag. 1x4 and 1x2 bricks are pieces I buy a lot, so I have separate bags for those.

    For anything else other than plates, bricks and slopes, I have those big jewelry trays with subdivisions that I use to store the odd parts separated by type. In a smaller scale, my collection looks like @kor's, however, I use the Excel to catalog everything I have, and I save it to Dropbox, so I can access its numbers from anywhere with my cell phone or iPad.
  • Bosstone100Bosstone100 USAMember Posts: 1,434
    Right now, I am using hardware part cases with yellow bins that you can find at Loews or Home Depot. That takes care of all of the standard bricks and plates. I have large plastic file cabinet type thing that has all of the wheels, trees, non-standard stuff. It is by no means sorted. I'd like to sort it further but will probably wait to see if I'll build any of my childhood sets.
  • dmg111dmg111 Member Posts: 40
    My collection was sorted by color (reds of all shades in one bin, purples, blues, transparents, painteds, wheels, multi-part assemblies, etc.) until I realized how much of a pain it is to find a specific piece in a drawer of the same color. So I've set out to sort by piece - everything of one type of piece (1x1 plate, 1x1 plate round, 2x4 brick, etc.) per drawer, regardless of color. Much easier to find what I want that way. I also have minifigs sorted by theme (Star Wars, PotC, town, CMF by series, etc.).

    My collection really isn't large enough to break it down further than that, and being unemployed and with little money, it's not really growing a whole lot right now. I've also stopped sorting since I ran out of storage units, and buying more is on hold right now as well.
  • graphitegraphite USMember Posts: 3,270
    ^ I have mine similar. It's much easier to scan for a color in a bin that you know are all the same piece than it is to scan a pile of the same color for a specific shape.
  • JenniJenni JapanMember Posts: 1,390
    We've decided to go with type over colour too. That's FB, GE and PS in the bins which my daughter "helped" by disassembling them all into the same box one day :). Nothing like that for making you pick a sorting methodology. 6,000 down 93,000 to go.
  • CountryboyCountryboy Member Posts: 36
    edited May 2012
    I am at that point where i need to decide which route to take. I am currently doing by top level type (I.E. Brick/Plate 1X / Plate 2x), however it's getting harder and harder to find that piece when i need it. So i am going to switch my storage to these plastic lidded shoe boxes. However i am still trying to decide whether i store by color
    Black - Plate
    Black - Brick
    Black - Slope
    Black - Slope reverse


    Plate 1X
    Plate 2X
    Plate 4X
    Plate 6X
    Brick 1X
    Brick 2X

    What are the masses doing?


  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    2nd way. if you have a big pile of the same part, it's easy to pick out the color you want. if you have a big pile of the same color, it's more difficult to pick out the exact piece type you want

    there's an older thread about this somehwere here...
  • NeilJamNeilJam USAMember Posts: 272
    I agree that for the most part sorting primarily by type is more effective than sorting by color. However, I wonder if it still might be useful to sort some parts by color if they are a lesser used color (like dark red) or a color you don't a lot of.
  • dimefielddimefield Edmonton Alberta CanadaMember Posts: 314
    My sorting method morphs constantly as I buy more Lego. Dark red and Dark blue both are sorted completely by colour. All the primary Lego colours are by type. I had all my black in a large bin and it was nigh on impossible to find anything.
  • JenniJenni JapanMember Posts: 1,390
    I think it depends what you're planning to do with it. If you're going to just put sets back together or design in LDD and build then by part is probably better. If you're planning to reproduce cavegod's AT-AT then it's better to have all your grey pieces in one place rather than spread out in 30 bins by type.

    All our 1x1 bricks and plates are in compartment storage because putting them in a bin was getting crazy.
  • CountryboyCountryboy Member Posts: 36
    I decided to go with these sterilite bins and sort by Type for the most part. I'll do this for most of the type except for those that you tend to accumulate allot of (Common brick sizes). These for the main colors, i will store on their own I'll see how that goes. I bought 10 of these sterilite shoe boxes and have already used 6 just for the 1X plates!!!!

    Thanks all

  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    For those who need better light to sort those multiple colors of gray, as well as to see instructions for dark colors, consider investing in an Ott-Lite lamp. Knitters and crafters use them and love them. They are not inexpensive but they are great for our purposes. They come in many styles. I would happily invest in a second one if I could stay out of the Lego Store!
  • voidstarvoidstar Member Posts: 21
    I sort by type, not color, with one exception: I separate out old greys and browns and other colors that are hard to discern.

    If you need to be really picky about color then separating the two yellow shades or the old and new dark reds is easier if you do it one time and them keep them separate forever after.
  • bubbathaluvabubbathaluva Member Posts: 4
    edited July 2012
    Along with my vast sets that I have on display, I also have a large amount of loose bricks I've collected. Right now, they are separated by color into cheap shoe-box sized plastic bins I picked up from a Big Lots. The problem is when I'm looking for particular piece, I generally have to dump the whole container on the floor and sift through it to find the particular piece. That's not very efficient. I see lots of pics of people's lego rooms and I try to pay attention to what I see in the background as far as storage and organization. I figured it would just be best to come out and ask what is the best/most efficient/cost effective way to divide the bricks. I'm beginning to think that sorting them by type regardless of color might work better. I'm pretty sure I lack the room to sort by color AND type. There is probably a happy medium somewhere in the middle. What is everyone's thoughts on this?
  • masterX244masterX244 GermanyMember Posts: 530
    Sort by type then by color.Much easier to find the special piece. THe brain can distinguish colors faster than shapes so you see the part in the wanted color faster than the part in the box with the same color.
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    Agree with masterx244. We use the same type boxes you do, but sort by shape. At first we had all slopes together, but as the container got too full we split them up by size. We did the same with other categories.
  • murphquakemurphquake Member Posts: 651
    much easier to find a white 2x4 in a box of different color 2x4s than a white 2x4 in a box of every size white brick.
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    Yep, agree with everyone else here - I used to sort by colour, but recently changed to type. The good thing about sorting by type is you can choose how many different types you want to have. I just have 2xbricks, 1xbricks, plates, modified bricks, etc, but you can refine those into as many sub-types as you need, then by colour as well if desired.
  • CoolsplashCoolsplash Member Posts: 935
    I have sorted my bricks with the type of the brick. Its easier. Only problem is storage as I am currently using small plastic bins for each part since I do not have that many parts. But I am looking for better storage solution, like some bead collector boxes which I cannot find over here. Each transparent briefcase can have 12-16 partitioned bins and would save so much space. Wife would become a tad happier too :P
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,950
    I would agree. Sort by type first, then by colour. Type is definitely more important.
  • Penkid11Penkid11 Member Posts: 789
    edited July 2012
    First it was color, but as you all are no doubt aware a Lego collection grows exponentially. I'm presently sorting by type in order to avoid rigorous searching through hundreds of Zip-lock bags! Its working. A long while ago, I built the Technic Jango Fett by finding the pieces with all those bags. It took 2 days. About a week ago I decided to build that same set again (same copy of the set) to minimalize the amount of small sorted piles of Technic pieces I sorted. I didn't quite make the dent to rid me of those small pile, but I had the set's parts and had it built in 2 hours! As you can see, sorting by type is ideal, especially if you want to build some of your old sets again.
  • sipmart242sipmart242 Member Posts: 41
    edited September 2012
    I'm trying to figure out how to organize parts so its easy later to use them for builds do most sort in colors,sizes themes and any ideas on storage of parts would be great.
  • Penkid11Penkid11 Member Posts: 789
    I would suggest doing it by color, put the colors in individual containers, and then sort each color by group (slope, brick, plate) or by part (1x1, 1x2, etc). This minimizes the clutter by so much, it's not even funny.
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    I did the opposite - I used to sort by colour, now I'm by general type. Depends on how many bricks you have. When your collection starts getting too big, start sorting the general types into sub-types. For example, recently my tub of plates was getting too big to find stuff, so I separated out the 1x? plates, which freed up heaps of room and made it a lot easier to find small plates.

    Also, its a lot easier to find a certain colour 1x2 brick in a tub of mixed colour 1x? bricks, you seem to hone in easier on the colour first, then the type.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,003
    I also do type first, then colour if a lot of parts.

    I do 1x1 and 1x2 in the same box, 1x4 in one box, 1x6 and 1x8 in another, etc same for 2x. I don't mind 1x1 and 1x2 mixed, as it is easy to spot the correct size. I find if all 1x are in one box, then it can take a while to find a particular size.
  • pvp3020pvp3020 Member Posts: 164
    It really does depend on how many bricks you have. For example I keep all my red, yellow and blue plates (up to 4x4) in one big box. But I have so many light grey plates that I have them sorted into 7 different boxes: 1x?, 2x2 up to 2x6, 2x8 up to 4x4, 4x6 up to 4x12, 6x? and above, and 2 boxes for small and large wedge plates.

    I know, it's ridiculous.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,285
    edited September 2012
    Yeah.. Regardless of how many parts of a type I have I usually sort by type and leave it at that.. unless you have the oodles of space to set aside bins/trays/bags on type AND Color...

    I sorted my plates recently by the same type of theory.. 2x2 and 2x3 (with the 2x2 in a smaller bin in the shoe box bin) then 2x4, 2x6.. Im going to get smaller ziploc bins to the to consolidate bins, but it is probably best to try to sort by the part types.. especially for the 1x1 plates with loops and 1x1 plates with clips...
  • sipmart242sipmart242 Member Posts: 41
    Thanks everyone for the feedback now its off to sorting:)
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    always do type first. it's way easier to find the right color in a bin of similar pieces than it is to find the right piece in a sea of same-color items.

    depending on the piece (or group of pieces), secondary sorting by color is optional depending on how many you have in the initial sort.
  • tdhbrtdhbr Member Posts: 188
    I completely agree with sorting by type first, then by color if necessary, depending on quantities. Some other thoughts:

    If a container has lots of different colors, or different types, the container should be wide and shallow for easier searching. A container filled with all of the exact same piece can be deep, because you're just taking off the top.

    Transparent/translucent containers are best - you can pick up at a look through the bottom to look for what you want.

    If you have a few of a single color of a brick - too few for their own container, but easily lost in a bigger container - then stick them together so they make a block, then put them in with other bricks. When you want those few 1x2 dark green bricks, you'll easily find all 8 of them at the same time in the bigger pile.

    Hardware trays are great for tiny pieces (1x1 plates, cheese slopes, clips, bars, tools ...). Sterilite multiple-drawer cabinets in various sizes work well for larger pieces.

    Sorting can be time-consuming, but it's well worth it. Take a break from building periodically to re-sort and store all the loose pieces that are out, and the building will go much quicker. Plus, I find sorting can be kind of therapeutic.
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    tdhbr said:

    Plus, I find sorting can be kind of therapeutic.

    Agreed. Watching NFL football is as well. I'll be doing both tonight.
  • graphitegraphite USMember Posts: 3,270
    ^ Doing the same. Sorting like 40 lbs worth of LEGO and hoping the Packers pull off a win.
  • sipmart242sipmart242 Member Posts: 41
    Man time consuming is the word but it was kind of fun I didn't realize I had so many freaking dots:) but it was a break from building and it did satisfy my ocd I still have a way to go but gotta eat,sleep,and work I guess.
  • khmellymelkhmellymel United KingdomMember Posts: 1,304
    edited September 2012
    I love sorting and watching (American) football. I never realised how much I really used the time to relax until I got here and don't get to do either! Gotta find something new to do before exams.
  • OldfanOldfan Chicagoland, IL, USAMember Posts: 676
    Here is a pointer to a classic thread that should give you a chuckle as you try and figure out your optimal sorting system:

    (apologies for the non-link, my computer is not cooperating...)
  • CupIsHalfEmptyCupIsHalfEmpty CanadaMember Posts: 547
    I'm step 14...
  • JenniJenni JapanMember Posts: 1,390
    I knew there was a thread

    Sorry it took so long to find, I've been mainly on my phone when checking Brickset.

    You can see a picture of our LEGO room in that thread. We sort by type and then as a bin gets full we split it, for example I just split our 3+x plates into 3-4x and 5+x and our 1x plates are about to be split by length. We use 6.2qt Sterilite boxes from Walmart that are becoming difficult to find now. They are not very deep so you can find things and they are pretty much the size of the Expedit shelves and can be stacked 4 high. We keep 1x1 pieces in craft boxes with adjustable compartments so they can be expanded across the row as needed.

    So far we're quite happy with our choices and I think we will be for a while as our collection grows. I don't know if it's a manageable system for all quantities though. In theory we can take the inventory page of any disassembled set and pull out the necessary parts without too much trouble and rebuild it.

    Have fun, I too love sorting which is fortunate as we take everything apart in preparation for our move, Tower Bridge is next :).
Sign In or Register to comment.

Shopping at or Amazon?

Please use our links: Amazon

Recent discussions Categories Privacy Policy

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. Sign in or register to get started. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, the, Inc. Associates Program and the Amazon EU Associates Programme, which are affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.