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The advantage of Lego — their amazing durability — is also a limitation, because sooner or later you’ll end up with more bricks than you can easily store. And having formulated a way to store your bricks, is it in a manner that permits you to find just the element you’re looking for? Here are some suggestions for storing Lego, as well as some methods that aren’t so great.

The Bin Method

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Grab every Lego brick you own and shove it in a big box — more of a storage method than a way to organize your bricks. Speaking as a parent of three kids, any organizational system devolves into the bin method unless Mom and Dad do the organizing.

The main disadvantage is it’s very hard to find that one brick you need. If you’re an AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego) you need to be able to find your elements quickly in order to maximize your hobby time.

Containers With Dividers

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The first thing that expert builders do is begin divvying up their elements into separate compartments. They might use tackle boxes, multi-drawer cabinets, or similar methods. Maybe one set of drawers for various flavors of Technic pins, another for gears, etc.

One problem with this method is that it works best for tiny pieces. It’s not like you’d need to keep huge plates or long beams in separate compartments — so oftentimes a builder will employ dividers for small pieces and bins for larger ones.Stacks

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This brilliantly simple idea by EMSL makes use of System bricks’ connection system to stack like pieces together. Need that 2×3 yellow plate? Reach for your stack of those pieces. Pretty much all Lego parts ranging from classic bricks to slopes, Technic beams, plates, and so on can be stacked — and the ones that don’t, like pins, gears and axels, can be stored in a divided box.

Kellbot’s Meta Lego Storage

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Efficiency is great and all, but sometimes beauty is even more important. Who really wants an ugly bin of Lego in their living room? NYC Resistor member Kellbot’s Meta Lego containers are a beautiful and elegant way to store and display your bricks. Each one holds 64 of the element represented by the box — so a box that looks like a 2×3 brick holds 64 2×3 bricks. Best of all, as you add to your collection, you can make more of these stackable storage boxes.

Sort by Color
This is the most obvious way to sort your bricks. Yellow ones go in this tub, red ones in another tub. While this is a great tactic for finding the color you want, it’s a bad method for finding the brick you need. That is, unless you tend not to use “funny shaped” bricks. For instance, Lego artist Nathan Sawaya uses mainly classic System bricks, not weird-shaped ones, and this makes organizing by color a logical decision. Plus, it looks really great in the bins! Sawaya has said that walking into his studio, which has more than a million Lego bricks, is like walking into a rainbow.

Sort by Shape
This is the power method of organizing Lego. The human eye distinguishes between colors much more readily than it can pick out that 8×8 round plate out of a big bag of similarly colored elements. So store all of those plates in a big container and then pick out the color you want

Lego Room

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When all else fails, just shove them all in a room! A Lego room can be a glorious place, full of models, parts of models, bricks. The owner of this Lego room, Matt “Monsterbrick” Armstrong, has even resorted to a kiddie wading pool to store all his loot.

BAD IDEAS
I think these are some bad ways to store your Lego. If I’m wrong, feel to tell me so in comments.

1. Storing by Set
Some people store the bricks of the model in a ziploc with the instructions along with. Way to go, sapping all the creativity out of Lego! The sets you buy in the store are fun — I build every set I get, and I get a lot. But building the model is a starting point. Once you’ve completed the model, those elements need to be set free to be used in other projects. Keeping them all together will make you never want to create your own Lego models. If you want to rebuild the set again, you can download PDFs of the building instructions online. But for pity’s sake, let those bricks out of the bag.

2. Sorting Trays

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Sorting trays like Box4Box seem like a neat idea. They consist of a series of open bins with different sized grating on the bottom. You simply drop your bricks in the top and shake, and the small elements sift to the bottom tray. Voila, storage and sorting in one system.

I’m not a fan. First, you can only sort by brick size. That means if you have multiple bricks stuck together, they’ll end up in the wrong bin. And sorting purely by element size really doesn’t offer much help when you’re looking for one particular piece. Even worse, the system can’t ramp up — it’s not like you could expand to five trays.

3. Dedicated Lego Storage Furniture

This Lego table Ikea hack is, at first blush, a great idea. Turn a dining room table into a Lego-playing and storing table! Guess what? Don’t like it.

A Lego collection is constantly evolving. Could be you’re expanding by buying new sets. Maybe you built a beautiful model out of 40% of your collection and you want to leave it built for awhile. Or, perish the thought, you might want to throw your bricks into storage for a few months or years and focus on something else.

A system like this, as clever as it is, ropes you into a certain mindset. You must not add more bricks than the table will hold. You must build here instead of in the living room. And what do you do if you want to set aside your bricks? You have a huge table covered in studs and bins that’s useless for anything but Lego.

So there you have it. How do you store your Lego?