Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: LEGO Sorting and Storage System!

Adam’s been doing a lot of builds during the lockdown, which has been very relaxing and stabilizing. And in this video, he takes on a longer-term organization project: sorting and building a storage system for his massive collection of LEGO! It’s a walk down memory lane for Adam’s decades-long relationship with building LEGO, and not an easy challenge to tackle. Thankfully Adam’s Mom is here to help out! What are your own strategies for sorting LEGO pieces?

Comments (16)

16 thoughts on “Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: LEGO Sorting and Storage System!

  1. if I were to send you my PayPal how long would it take to get 2 of those ?? LOL LOL.

    thats whats i thought i saw as well

  2. I did this a couple years ago with my big bin of LEGO. After I sorted by color I actually sat down with instructions and built every kit I could build. Including my vintage Galexy Explorer from my childhood. This was the first time it had it together in 40 years. Then each completed kit went into a large bag with instructions.

  3. I have a LEGO room in my basement. I built the space specifically for it when remodeling a few years back. Here’s the 23 foot long wall where I store about 60-70% of my approximately 1 million piece collection:

    The other 30-40% is made up of bins of unsorted or partially-sorted parts, and built creations stored in boxes to take to shows – I’m part of the Kenosha LEGO Users Group (KLUG), we do 8-12 shows for the public every year. The storage is a combination of Rubbermaid drawers, Iris drawers (superior to Rubbermaid in every way), Plano 3700 organizers, Akro-Mills small parts drawers, LEGO retail Pick-a-brick cups, IKEA “GLES” boxes, and some screw-top containers that keep going on deep rebates at Menards. There are 12 Akro-Mills drawer units total – the front 4 are on full extension drawer slides to give access to the ones behind. The top shelf holds unopened sets… which is quickly diminishing as my oldest daughter and I have been building them together every night for the past couple months.

    Parts are mostly sorted by type. Some are sorted by part and color. For example, 1×1 tile is in a Plano 3700 organizer separated by color. Parts that I use more often get priority for more granular sorting, as those are the parts I want to access quickest. The only thing I sort purely by color is plain brick – if I’m building a wall, I know I’m building it with a specific color. For anything else, it’s much easier to find 1 red window in a pile of windows than it is to find that same window in a big pile of red pieces.

    Adam, if you ever want to get more involved in the LEGO hobby, even just to go to a LEGO show, check out your local LEGO Users Group “BayLUG”.

  4. Dude, as a woodworker, I can tell you that too many people get tripped up by trying to use that ‘Numbers’ thingy. While I understand the allure of using Modren(yes it’s spelled correctly for my purpose) techniques, they can also trip you up a bit. Next time try placing the board you’re going to cut directly on the piece it goes in. What we Scientists refer to as… ‘Reality’. Reality is often a better source of information, as ‘Numbers’ has to be translated from reality to some abitrary measuring system, then back again. As you can see, error can often creep in, with disappointing results.

    And don’t get me started on that ‘Math’ thingy…

  5. adam: *knows that ‘legos’ is a wrong term*

    also adam: *not only uses it for ‘lego bricks,’ but also ‘types of lego bricks’*

    this must be adam at his most lawful evil.

  6. I store my LEGO bricks depending on types in small plastic containers, so they’re easy to take with me whereever I want to use them.. I’m not too happy with the storage system, but all other systems I’ve looked at doesn’t work as well for me.

    I do this because I usually design random stuff where I in the beginning don’t care about the colors, I only care about what type of bricks I’m using so when I’m finished with my design (and also done with optimization of the design) I can easily see what and how many bricks I need to buy of each type in order to make the actual design.

    For example yesterday I decided I wanted to make a foot high TARDIS and I put together this (picture below) to see how I could make this model, from this little part and a few drawings I put together an Excel sheet 🙂 so I could calculate how many of each types of bricks I should order in order to but it all together! Making things is so much fun!!

  7. I recently bestowed my lifelong collection to my 4 year old. It spurred me to reorganize it and find better storage than the Glad containers and large ikea boxes. I found these small parts containers and am in love with them. They are easily portable (or able to put away and take out to play). They nest together including locking tabs. The internal cups are removable for rearranging and taking to where you want the parts.

    I picked them up at Home Depot for $10 a piece. I don’t know if they ever go on sale. I picked up 8 of them and they are sufficient for my collection. I’m not sure of the piece count but in apparent volume it appears similar to Adam’s. I may get a few more to further sub-divide part types.

    This reorg also took me from the by-color to by-type organizational scheme. There is no question a collection the size of mine needs to be by-type.

  8. So with the “help” of my kids, we did a short video this morning about our Lego sorting system. I see from the comments above, I am not the only one to be shocked by the idea that you should sort by color.

    https://vimeo.com/421854720

  9. I sorted my lego a few years ago after storing it for ages in a few larger tubs. I went for the Stanley FatMax sorters.

    Large bricks and plates in the deep boxes and small, detail bricks and technic in the shallow boxes.

    Also put all the paper instructions in file boxes.

    At some point I need to store and catalogue these so I can find what I have. My parents had the foresight to keep a lot of the instructions safe, so I have original instructions for a lot of my sets from the early 80s.

    I sorted mostly by type rather than colour. Were I have a lot of one colour I have separated those out. I love the FatMax storage as you can take out the bins with the brick type you need and then put the rest way so your not fighting for space with all the storage tubs out and open.

  10. We sort our Lego
    pieces by shape and size—NOT color. For example, we think it’s more efficient
    to group them as:

    (a) 1×1 brick with stud

    (b) 1×1 short with stud

    (c) 1×1 short smooth (no stud)

    (d) 1×1 round (or flower)

    (e) 1×1 triangle

    …regardless of color.

    The same goes for Technic gears, axles, beams, wheels, etc;
    props (clock, carrot, flag, croissant); plants (stems, flowers, trees, leaves);
    figures (people and all their accessories: hair, hats, visors, capes); and so on.

    We use a variety of clear containers: Medela bottles, cylinders with hinged lid, containers
    for cottage cheese (or take-out meals), reclosable* bags, etc. When we run out of containers and need to
    consolidate, we try to put contrasting colors in the same box or bag, so that
    it’s easier to select the pieces we want. (Our experience with Perler beads taught us NOT to put coral and pink in
    the same bag. It’s better to put coral
    with grey, and pink with blue.) We stack
    things on wire shelves, old coffee table, portable cart, etc.

    We definitely agree with you about getting rid of off-brand bricks. Someone gave us some knockoffs, and we
    quickly learned to avoid them. By the
    way, the black filing cabinet in the corner is full of Lego instruction
    books.

    *We learned from “bubble packaging” that we aren’t supposed
    to use the trade name.

  11. The thing that bugged me most about the video, was that the foam core boxes adam made weren’t all the same size & thus would make it harder to store.
    Given that adam is fanatical about storage this surprised me the most, even more thatbsort by color/shape controversy.

  12. I love using these bins for sorting the small bits. The removable trays are amazing and can be mixed and matched. Mostly I use plastic shoe-box’s or leftover containers for the rest of it – with a few hardware drawer style stackers too.

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