The right Lego Sorter will get you done 10x faster. It will make the whole process fun and easy. But sorting by hand is a nightmare. It is slow, boring and never seems to end. Plus, you get to do it again every time you build or pick up new bricks. That's why choosing the right way to sort your Lego bricks is such an important decision.
Why Do You Want A Lego Sorter?
You came here looking for a Lego Sorter. Maybe you started sorting your bricks by hand and realized how long it was going to take. (It takes so, so long) Or you are sick of digging through the unsorted bin of bricks and want to give it some order. If you are a Lego parent you might be looking for a way to help your kids build more with their current collection. In any case I can help you.
I have been where you are. I have tried to sort my collection by hand. I have used all the different tools I could find to help. I have gotten frustrated and put it aside. I have a 7 yr old boy who plays with our bricks every day. So I know about the mess, cleaning, re-cleaning and stepping on bricks.
I have also found a solution that works. A way to quickly organize your bricks so that you can find any part in just seconds. (My son understood it all the first day) I created a special sorting tool that speeds the process up 10x. (and it's easy to build) In fact I have put together an entire system for Sorting, Organizing and Storing Lego called Sorted By Sunday.
But today you came to learn about Lego sorters and before I can explain all of your options and tell you how they work, I want to make a few things clear. There is a difference between Lego Sorting, Lego Organizing, and Lego Storage. Each piece is very important and needs to be planned.
Lego Sorting Tip
For most builders, sorting your Lego bricks is the slowest and most annoying part of organizing your collection. You can do it all by hand, but it will take a very, very long time. This is usually the reason people don't finish working on their collection. If you want a much faster way check out our Free Lego Sorting Guide.
Sorting, Organizing and Storing Lego
Sorting is the process of taking a bin full of mixed up pieces and putting them into groups. It can be done by hand, with a simple tool like a sifter, or using a complex machine. In any of these cases all that the Lego Sorter does is to speed up the process of putting bricks in groups.
Organizing is the way you group your bricks together. Do you match them by color, or by function? What pieces go together and why. Do you mostly build custom creations, rebuild old sets, or build on your Lego wall? Understanding this will help you decide how to organize your Lego collection and if you really need a big Lego Organizer.
Storage is simply what you put the bricks in. Bins, boxes, bags and totes. There are more different ways to store your bricks than you can imagine. In fact Lego Storage is such a huge subject that I have a whole section of the website just for it. Make sure you understand this before you start sorting your bricks or you will probably buy a bunch of stuff you don't really need.
Out Of Production
Unfortunately most of the Lego size sorters below are no longer being produced or sold. By themselves the just weren't that useful, but combined with the right tools they can be amazing. Learn more in our Free Sorting Guide.
3 Kinds Of Lego Sorter
When I went searching for a faster way to sort my bricks I found 2 different types out there. The simple sifter/shaker sorting tools and the complex artificial intelligence sorting machines some people had built. Both have some serious problems... so I built a 3rd type.
Lego Shake/Sift Sorters
Lego shake sorters come in a few different styles. The most common is the Lego Sort and Store Head. These used to retail for around $40, but were discontinued a few years ago. They are still around on Ebay for about the same price.
The square one above is made by Box4Blocks a company from New Zeland. Their website says they are working on a new design, but it hasn't been updated in years so I don't think they are still moving forward. Lastly the round one on the left was made by Blokpod and sold on Amazon. This is actually the one I bought although they are no longer selling them. (notice a pattern)
The main reason these never caught on is that they don't work very well. The design is simple, a series of screens with smaller holes as you move toward the bottom. You are supposed to load your mixed bricks into the top and give it a shake. All your little pieces are sorted into 4 different sizes.
First of all, if your collection is more than a few thousand bricks (and most are) you need more than 4 different groups. Yes I believe sorting by size is important. We all know how difficult it is to find those little 1x2 plates that find there way to the bottom. But there are over 3,700 different Lego elements and 182 colors. Four groups would put 1000s of different parts in each bin, you will still have trouble finding your bricks.
Second, they don't work as advertised. Yes they are fast, but lots of long skinny bricks (like Technic Axles) get stuck at the top because they are not facing the right way to fall. Sure shaking helps, but in my experience you get about 50% of the bricks that fit, to fall through the screen. The rest have to be helped along.
Technic liftarms get stuck at all levels depending on their length.
They are small enough to fit through the bottom holes.
To be completely clear I like the Blokpod. It is well made and the sizes of hole were chosen to match Lego bricks. I think it is a fast and useful tool, but it isn't enough alone, I will explain soon.
If you want one of these you can find them in the used market. Otherwise there are lots of tutorials for DIY Lego Sorters. Some are made by drilling holes in boards or buckets. There is even someone who made one with tennis racket string. This is a pretty simple and easy to build tool if you need one.
AI Driven Automated Lego Sorters
These are absolutely amazing. They are feats of computer and mechanical engineering that blows my mind. They sort Lego bricks faster and more precisely than anything out there. These are by far the fastest way to sort bricks, but you have to make it on your own.
They use belts, blowers and shakers to separate each brick. Then a camera takes a picture of it and the computer recognizes which brick it is. After that it is shuttled off to the correct location.
There are many different versions. Some are faster and more precise. Each builder seems to improve on the last design and someday there might be one for sale. Until then you will not be sorting your bricks this way.
Plus, they are also like shooting a mosquito with a bazooka. If you are a Lego Master Builder and sort millions of bricks a month, you need this. For everyone else, it will take longer to make than it would to hand sort.
The Speed Sorter
I realized pretty early on that nothing on the market was really going to help me sort my bricks. So I spent some hours on YouTube looking at Lego sorting videos.
Some people were showing their sorting techniques, but most were just showing off their massive, perfectly organized, Lego rooms. It was at this point that I realized a few things.
Lego Sorting Tip
Get all of the detailed plans to build your own Lego Sorter in our course Sorted By Sunday. Here you will get all of the training and materials needed to sort your entire Lego Collection in under a week. Get finished sorting and get back to building, with Sorted By Sunday.
- 1I don't want to sort my collection into 500 little drawers.
Sure, it looks nice for pictures, and it must be really easy to find pieces, but sorting that detailed is incredibly time consuming. Every piece, every color, no way. I don't even have the space for that. Plus I like to build, a lot. So does my son. The more you build, the more you re-sort. The more complicated your organization, the longer it takes to sort.
I realized the key was to sort enough that I could find my bricks easily, and no further.
- 2Picking up bricks is a huge waste of time.
The fastest Lego sorters I watched never picked the bricks up. They would dump them on a table and scoot them off into their laps. This sped up the sorting, but they kept going back through the same pile over and over to sort each type of brick out. I could see all the wasted movement.
I knew there had to be a way to work through a pile of bricks in one turn.
So I created this, the speed sorter. Well this is actually the 3rd version I made (and I have upgraded it since), but the first that really worked well. It has an open platform where you can place a pile of bricks. 8 shoots move down in different directions. Take a pile of mixed bricks in the middle and you can scoot them out into each section and they fall right down into a tote below.
As simple as it seems this design amazed me. After I sorted a few hundred bricks my hands become familiar with the locations of each category. As I sorted more I got faster and faster until I was sorting over 1,000 bricks per hour.
To go with this I created a organizing system based on 8 categories of bricks. It is covered more in the Lego Organizing section and in detail in the Sorted By Sunday Course. Each is a basic part type and every brick falls into one and only one of group.
I can quickly sort them into those 8 categories, then run them through my Blokpod shaker, so I end up with 32 bins of bricks. (8 categories, 4 sizes) I don't sort by color because of the extra time and the fact that we often sub out colors when building.
With this system I can find any brick in just seconds. I will often build with my son and I can pull the parts as fast as he assembles them.
I realize that if you build custom Lego sets make out of 10,000 pieces for brick shows, this system isn't enough for you. But for the rest of us, who wants to make some really cool creations, this will do wonders for your building. The first week we finished this my son took the Lego Build It book and made 25 new sea creatures.
In fact he has become a bit of a brick snob. The last time he was at a friend house he didn't want to play Lego since his bricks weren't sorted. It was even a hit with my wife. (who would build new sets, but never touch the messy bin) She started building with him every afternoon after school.
This is the best way I have found to sort your Lego, try it out. The tools are easy to use and inexpensive to build. If you decide that your bricks need to be sorted further, you can break a category up. Either way the start you get by soring with the SOS Bricks Lego Sorter and a sifter will give you a huge jump on making sense of your collection.
Thanks for joining me today at the Build More Store, leave me a comment if you have any great sorting tips that I might have missed. 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.