• minute Read
  • March 31, 2021
  • Organizing LEGO Takes More Than A Lego Organizer

    Let’s get something clear to start, there is a difference between a Lego organizer and organizing your Lego bricks. Lego organizers usually refer to the towers of small plastic drawers you see in Lego Master Builder‘s rooms. They look impressive. They look organized. They look like what we all want, but are they really?

    An Organized Collection

    What most of us actually want is to have an organized Lego collection. We want to be able to quickly and easily find the bricks we want to build with. Taking it any further will only reduce the amount of time you spend building, and that is the goal after all… right? We organize our bricks so that we can build more and build better. 

    Lego organizers are just one type of storage. To see lots more options take a look at the Ultimate Guide To Lego Storage. But for now I’m going to stay focused on organizers and organizing. 

    Are Lego organizers the right way to organize your collection? Let’s look at what is out there. 

    Lego Organizing Tip

    Organizing your bricks is really about how you group them together. Do you keep similar colors, functions or themes together. Do you store entire builds in the same container. Once you decide how to organizer your collection, finding the right Lego Storage becomes much easier. 

    The Most Popular Lego Organizers

    Akro-Mils-Lego-Organizer

    The most popular Lego organizer is the Akro-Mils line of storage cabinets. These are available on Amazon and range from $20-50 depending on the size. They have between 16 and 64 drawers, are lightweight, and easy to ship. If you want to sort your collection into 100s of different containers for each element, this is an inexpensive way to do that. (But you almost certainly don’t want to, and I’ll explain why soon)

    There are many similar products available at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Craftsman, Fleming and Tafco all make comparably priced products. Each will have a different setup of drawers, and different dimensions. These are all made to be garage/workshop organizers and are built to hold lots of little parts.

    Craft-Drawer-Lego-Organizer

    The next group of Lego Organizers are the home/craft style.  The rolling rainbow carts from Michaels are a popular choice for kids rooms. They are setup to have 5 or 10 large drawers on a rolling rack. The racks are easy to put away and kid tough. 

    Another great set of craft drawers are the storage carts by IRIS USA. These aren’t as tough as the ones from Michaels but they are lightweight and have nice wide but shallow drawers, which are great if you keep a few different elements in the same drawer.

    3 Big Downsides Of Lego Organizers

    Lego organizers may look really cool, and seem like the solution to all your storage problems, but that probably isn't true. For most builders these just become a prison that locks in all of your bricks and end up causing more problems then they solve. 

    1. Lego Organizers don’t grow with your collection

    Your Lego collection is going to grow and change. A new theme may come out that you fall in love with, or you find that more complex designs are getting fun. So what you build and the bricks you have will change over time. Don’t you want your Lego storage to change with it?

    With most of the popular Lego organizers you are stuck with 1-2 sizes of drawers. The setup is pretty much fixed and you can’t change it without buying a whole new cabinet. That is important.

    When you find yourself with more of an element than the drawer holds, what will you do? 

    Switch around a bunch of drawers? Give it 2 drawers? Add a 2nd location for that part? Get a whole new storage cabinet? Now that perfect system that you spent forever creating is getting mixed up? And guess what, this will happen a lot.

    2. Only one person can work with a Lego organizer

    In our house Lego building is usually a family event. With 2 kids and me all working on projects at the same time, access to parts matters. Lego organizers create a problem here.

    Both the big rolling rack and the wall mounted tiny racks only allow one person room to get bricks out at a time. Yes you could pull each drawer you need out, but pretty soon you will find your building space is just a pile of drawers. 

    We like storage that is easy to share and work from together. I have detailed how I store my bricks in the Ultimate Guide To Lego Storage. I have also created an entire sorting, organizing and storage system called Sorted By Sunday. This is a compete, simple and easy to use system.

    3. You don’t need that many little bins

    Lego-Organizer-Wall

    This is probably the biggest takeaway you need from this whole article. You don’t need 1000 different drawers to sort your bricks. I get how cool those rooms look. Do you get how many hours they took?

    100’s and often more, just to set them up and organize the bricks. Then every time you build something, you have hours more to sort it back. And why? So that you can easily find your bricks?

    Unless you are making a sprawling city on a custom Lego table, or have a truly massive collection (500+ sets, 500k bricks) you can find any brick really easily with 30-50 different containers. If you want to better understand what should be in each group I have a detailed article on How To Organize Legos which explains how different builders like to group their elements. 

    What you like to build matters

    Different types of builders will find that they want to organize their bricks differently. This becomes even more complex and your collection grows and building style changes. Find out the easiest way to avoid this in our Free Lego sorting guide

    Different Styles Of Lego Organizing

    There are a few different styles that are commonly used to organize a Lego collection. Mostly they depend on what you like to build. 

    Lego Artists

    Lego artists tend to build sculptures and abstract designs. These are often very large and usually require many pieces of the same color. Some artists even work only with tiles, building huge mosaics on Lego walls. For this reason Lego artists like to organize by color. Often if they have a very large collection they will also do some grouping by type.


    Organizing-For-Lego-Artists

    If you are building a large red dinosaur you will probably try some different part combinations to see what looks best. This is why having a variety of shapes in the same color is an easy way to build.

    Young Builders

    Young Lego builders usually are not as concerned with the colors and exactness of the design, they just want to build something cool. They often create multiple versions of the same thing in one day. Some parents like leaving the Lego all in one bin, as they think it helps make them more creative. I disagree.  

    In my experience adding some organization to your bricks will help your children be more creative. When you are building a truck and it takes 10 min to find a matching wheel it is frustrating. Often kids will give up or change the design to fit the parts they find.

    For kids I think organizing by function alone works great. This means that pieces of similar shape and purpose go together. For example all of your slope bricks, inverted, corner and curved can all go together in one bin. All of your plates, tiles, grills and jumpers can go together. Don’t worry about the colors. 

    MOC Makers

    MOC (My Own Creation) makers like to build a lot. Most are custom Lego sets and some are built from instructions. Either way they need to be able to find lots of specific parts quickly.

    Bricklink-Custom-Lego-Sets

    Sorting by by function is a must. Some color separating is usually done too. Without this it is too hard to find the 1000s of pieces they need to build. Depending on the level of builds they are making, often MOC makers organize down to the element (piece + color). These are usually the huge collections (500k+ bricks) you see people displaying photos or videos of their vast Lego organizers. 

    AFOLs and Other Builders

    This group probably has more to gain by sorting than any other. Unfortunately most don’t. This is the middle. Builders who have grown from playing with Lego to loving Lego. 

    AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) usually build a lot of new sets. The organization of parts and instructions makes it fun and easy. Sometimes they will create new ideas or modify sets, but without an organization system finding parts is difficult.

    These builders often have a large enough collection that they need to organize (50+ sets), however they don’t have enough time to figure out a system. Often they have families and other responsibilities that severely limit their brick time.

    If they would take the time to do even a limited sort of their collection, these builders could create 100s of models with the bricks they own.

    Don’t Over-Organize Your Lego Collection

    The goal for most people when they organize their collection is to build more and build better. This means that both new and old bricks will constantly be funneling back into storage. Every extra step you add to sorting and organizing is repeated when you put these away, so don’t over organize.

    I group my bricks into 8 basic categories. These are:

    • Angles & Curves
    • Bricks
    • Figures & Gear
    • Flats
    • Hinges & Connectors
    • Household
    • Technic
    • Vehicles

    The goal for most people when they organize their collection is to build more and build better. This means that both new and old bricks will constantly be funneling back into storage. Every extra step you add to sorting and organizing is repeated when you put these away, so don’t over organize.

    I group my bricks into 8 basic categories. These are:

    Build-More-Store-Lego-System
    Keep It Simple, You'll Be Glad

    Don't go all crazy and fill your room with hundreds of different drawers. They are often incompatible and very limiting. Simple storage is usually the best option. 

    Sort Before You Buy A Lego Organizer

    Lego sorting, organizing and storing all go hand in hand. There is an order that you should follow when organizing your bricks. It is this.

    Decide how you are going to organize them. Then sort them into temporary containers (I like gallon ziploc bags). Finally buy your storage and put them in their final homes.

    The reason for this is simple, you don’t know how much space each group will need until you sort them. How frustrating would it be to install all of your new storage cabinets only to find out that your bricks don’t fit. What a waste of money. 

    In the Sorted By Sunday course downloads I have an easy sheet you can fill out to determine what size storage containers you need. Let me know if you have any questions or information you want to share in the comments below.

    Some people will have the time, energy, and collection so that sorting their bricks into a Lego organizer makes sense. For the rest of us these cabinets are rarely the best option. I hope I have given you another way to look at this problem so that you can build more with the bricks you own.  

    Thanks for joining me today at the Build More Store. To see the latest articles make sure to check out the Lego Blog or for some great holiday activities make sure to browse our page on Lego Christmas.

    David Tatera

    David was first introduced to the brick when his family took a vacation to Legoland in 1980. He spent the next 10 years building and creating till he put aside his toys for other interests. Recently those bricks came back into his life as a father of two. From there David developed the Sorted By Sunday system to help improve how his family built with Lego and created this site to share it with the world.


    You may also like

    >