Sorting Bulk LEGO
After realizing I was going to need lots and lots of pieces to build something with even medium size I started to buy bulk LEGO lots on eBay. In hindsight I now realize I overdid it! I bought about 160KG bulk LEGO and it took me ages to sort them.
- You need to have a system. There are so many different bits and pieces it’s easy to get distracted and waste time on some low-value sorting actions.
- Accept that even with a system it will take a LOOONG time!
- Make sure you have enough containers. I bought a whole bunch of Samla boxes from IKEA and they are extremely useful to me Also sorting trays help a lot for small parts.
- Go in rounds. Don’t expect to sort every single piece at one go.
- The smaller parts get the longer it takes to sort. So 80/20 rule is valid in this case as well. Initially you go very fast but you will still have to spend a lot more time when you get down to small items like minifigure hands, 1x1 plates, cheese slopes etc.
- Create broad categories for initial sorting and sub-sort later. It will be a lot easier to sort a big bucket of bricks, for example, among themselves later on.
After sorting 160KG bulk LEGO, I think I can formulate my (ideal) process as follows:
- Large items (Baseplates, train tracks, large plates and bricks)
- Special / unique / vintage / fragile / valuable items
- Electric parts (Battery boxes, lights, sensors etc)
- Half / full builds
- Obvious Non-LEGO items
Separate the parts: Most bulk LEGO comes with lots of pieces attached to others. If I like a build and decide to keep it hoping that I will complete it in the future or just to identify the set, I keep it as is (as mentioned in round #1). Any other pieces attached together should be separated down to individual parts. In my experience it’s taking a long time just to separate these partial builds.
Separate the parts in these main categories:
- Wheels / tires
- Doors / windows
- Minifigures & accessories
- Plates with clips and hinges
- Unknown / unidentified (Looks and feels like LEGO but obscure parts)
- Non-LEGO (You will find lots of off-brand bricks and lots of junk)
I did have more buckets than these when I sorted but I guess if I started over I would have done one full round on only these items. These take the majority of the entire bulk anyway.
- Use a Box4Blox and sort by size.
Even though this gadget is not very accurate it does help. I suggest do one round on the largest size. This way you always deal with similar sized items. Then go to middle tier and the smallest one.
Here are some before pictures:
And some after pictures:
I know the after photos don’t look very impressive because I need to do some subsorting by element type as well and add to the inventory. But I’ll relax and do that over time. At least I was able to reclaim the space. It was getting quite depressing that my entire home was covered with bins and storage trays and I had no living space left.