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LEGO Tips and Techniques - Builder Storage



Last week I discussed my storage techniques for my Bricklink store.  But having a store and being a builder are two very different things.  I certainly pull parts from my store from time to time to add to my personal building stash.  But there are some things I do quite differently.

For starters my store is organized to match the Bricklink catalog.  This makes it easier to go down the line and pull orders.  My personal parts are organized mostly by color.  I have 6 storage cases from Harbor Freight Tools that are lightweight, convenient, and adaptable.  These cases are usually $6.99 a piece but go on sale for $2.99 or $3.99 often.  They come with all the dividers which gives you 24 compartments.  Each compartment is a touch larger than a 6x6 plate.  Dividers can be removed for 8L pieces or larger lots.  For instance, I keep all 1x2 tiles regardless of color in two combined compartments.
Storehouse 94458 24 Compartment Large Storage Container
I like the adaptable part of these.  I recently added two more to the collection and expanded my neutral colors into their own case away from the earth tones.  I also added another one as a specific project case to do away with parts that were in baggies and being stored in a used bubble mailer.  I may add a couple more soon to break out primary colors into their own case away from trans.

I reserve one compartment or double compartment for plates of a particular color.  The next double compartment below it I put all other parts in that color.  This is most easily seen in my earth tone case and somewhat in my neutrals case.  My primary colors are lower in quantity so plates and others are sometimes in one compartment each or just one compartment period!


My primary colors case includes several one compartment colors, a load of green and a load of transparent pieces.  Blue and yellow are currently overflowing due to one project.  Those pieces will get used up fairly quickly.  On the far right are double compartments of trans clear 1x2 plates and trans clear 1x1 plates.  All the other trans clear pieces need to spread out a little.  This case may soon be divided into greens + landscaping and primaries + trans


My other general cases are divided into neutrals, earth tones, and other pieces.  The other pieces case takes into account pieces that are used more often for function instead of color.  It also contains many smaller pieces that otherwise get lost in the other compartments.  There's space for hinges, travis bricks, brackets, 1x1 round, 2x2 round, bars, technic bits, and 12 compartments of tiles.  Those are broken up into 1x1, 1x2, 1x4, 2x2, 2x4, 1x6, 1x8 + 1x4 overflow, grill tiles, and cheese slopes.

How do I determine whether a part has more merit for its color or function?  The general rule of thumb is to consider how commonly I use the piece.  If I have very few of a color in general then all pieces of that color go in the same compartment (i.e. pearl gold).  If the function of the part comes in a myriad of colors then I generally store them together.

In order to save space, the pieces themselves are stacked where appropriate.  All plates are stagger stacked and tetrised into their compartments.  Stacking makes certain sizes easier to find.  Since 1x1 plates always filter to the bottom, it is easier to look for a long stack of them.  1x2 plates are built into 2x2 towers.  Bricks are straight stacked or built into cubes.  Round plates are straight stacked since they are easy to get apart.   Brackets and travis bricks are clipped together into as tight a formation as I can get with as many pieces as possible.  The 1x2-2x2 brackets are 5 to a group.  Most others are 4.



I also use some of the larger game board boxes.  These are for larger parts, temporary bulk overflow and WIPs.  If you carefully undo the glue that holds the flaps down, you can turn them inside out for a nice clean brown cardboard look.  It also looks less appealing than clickable ABS if it's sitting on your front seat at the grocery store.

I've seen many photos of build rooms where endless plastic parts drawer cases are used.  These are great too and likely expandable.  I'm happy to stick with my cases.  I can take a couple with me to work on part of a project or have something to do in an otherwise boring situation (doctor's office?)  As I end up with more, it is also no big deal to build slender shelves to hold these library style.  If I do it right it could end up looking like a rainbow Craftsman tool cart with one case per color.

I'm sure you've got some better ideas.  Let us know.