Sorting Your LEGO

by Jameson Gagnepain

LEGO sorting is a lifelong process. It is constantly evolving. Included here is what I've learned from my experiences in sorting LEGO.

First, a few points:

  • Sorting is primarily about categorization.
  • Sorting granularity depends largely on the size of your collection.
  • Do not sort by color! It's very difficult to find one red piece in a sea of red pieces.
Lets start with size. Of course, if you have a very small collection, say one or two sets, your sorting needs will be very minimal. A couple sets emptied into a pile on a floor or table are relatively easy to root through for "that one piece I know I've got". If you're reading this you've probably got more than a few sets, maybe a few Pick-a-Brick cups and BrickLink orders, and you're interested in sorting your pieces so they're more useful to you. 
This brings us to categorization. Essential to sorting LEGO is naming your pieces.  These can be BrickLink piece names, your own naming you came up with before joining the online LEGO community, whatever. Just be consistent. Names provide some natural categorization, and will be very helpful in your initial sorting attempts. Some natural divisions that come from common LEGO part names:
  • Bricks
  • Plates
  • Tiles
  • Plants
  • Wheels
  • Doors and Windows
  • Slopes
  • SNOT pieces (SNOT = Studs Not On Top)
If you're sorting any large number of parts, start with large, broad categories. Go through every part and toss them into piles based on your initial categories. For each pile, create sub-categories and repeat. So for plates, you might divide them by width, and then divide further by length. How far you divide depends on thesize of your collection. The bigger your collection, the more you'll need to divide to make it useful.
The one exception to my color rule is this: in my collection I sort basic brick by color, not by size. This comes down to utility - if I'm building a house, wall, etc., I need a big pile of one color brick to do it. My basic brick supply isn't large enough that I'll make my walls entirely out of one size of one color.


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