Introduction

LEGO Classic
Box with Technic sets

Each person who collects something, at some point faces the problem of storing his loots. The order, however, has to be, otherwise chaos embrace everything and the entire process of collecting falls apart. In the case of Lego sets it is a little easier, because each model can be divided into small bricks, which are high quality and very durable. This gives you more possibilities in the selection of storage methods, as you do not have to be careful that something will break or wrinkle. You can pack bricks in various ways, in cartons, bags, plastic or wooden boxes. Few items require special treatment really. After a month from the start of my second collecting adventure of classic Lego sets, I began to think seriously about how to store them. First of all, I wanted to find a reasonable way. I did not want to spend a load of money on 20 plastic or cardboard boxes, which in supermarket often reach exorbitant prices. I needed a good, reasonably priced solution with the option to purchase again, if necessary. In addition, those boxes had to have specific dimensions, because despite the small bricks, there are big elements such as street plates, 3D base plates or long hulls of the boats floating on the water. I had to find boxes, in width and length of at least 25,6cm (10″) for the plates and even bigger for the boats. That's not all, because bricks have to be packed in something, because I do not just throw them into the boxes. As for the sets goes, such problems I have encountered. 
However, there is yet another problem, because as every collector, I have additional spare or leftover bricks from incomplete sets. These bricks should somehow be stored as well, so I can have some brick at hand when needed. After some time I came to conclusion, that method of separating bricks is important. If you do it wrong, you can send a lot of time on searching that one missing brick. Therefore, it is worth to think about it at the begining to save yourself unnecessary stress. In this article I will describe what methods I have worked out after couple of attempts and more than a year of collecting. 
In my humble opinion I think those methods are cheap to maintain and good enough. I can quickly find any set or part which I need at the moment.
NOTE: I will base on european measurement in this article as those are measures used in my country. Nevertheless I will convert the centimeters to inches and kilograms to pounds in brackets, measures used mostly in USA.

Storage of sets

1. Packing bricks

At the begining, it is good to ask yourself how to pack bricks of single set. Ordinary string bags seems to be the best for it. These bags can easily be closed, which keep bricks well in one place. In addition, it is good to sort bricks of one set. You can do this in several ways. It is good to separate large parts like the plates and more delicate parts like transparent windows. However, the question remains, what bags should you buy? What sizes to choose? When I started my adventure with Lego, it was a problem. Well, to buy lots of bags is not a problem, but there are a lot of sizes available at the market and not all will be required. Generally, I use four types of string bags and sometimes I manage to use small bags for the windows when I want to provide them with additional protection. It was enough for me to be able to pack more than 250 sets, which I have collected so far.

LEGO Classic
String bags

Dimensions are given in the width and height order.
100x100mm (3,94 x 3,94″)  - small bags, good for the small sets such as 6501-1: Sport Convertible. Also useful for packing figures in large sets like 6395-1: Victory Lap Raceway or eg. to pack the joiners in Technic sets.
140x150mm (5,5 x 5,9″) - the most useful of all bags. Dimensions are just perfect for packing any small set of Lego. Almost 95% of the sets composed of 100 to 150 bricks will fit here. I mean, such sets as 6661-1: Mobile TV Studio or 6688-1: Ambulance. This is by far the most commonly used bag by me. In addition, they can be useful to separate big plates from larger sets.
100x200mm (3,94 x 7,87) - long bag, which comes in handy more than once for packing sets containing long parts such as long 16x6 plates for example or long arm of the crane in the 6361-1: Mobile Crane set.
200x300mm (7,87 x 11,8″) - that are the biggest bags and they useful to store all the big sets. All smaller bricks can be placed here separated from figures, big plates, windows and car windshields. Dimensions are enough and most of the medium sets will fit in it.
60x80mm (2,36 x 3,15″) - tiny bags, which come in handy to store 3-4 figures or 2-3 car windshields. Useful sometimes, but honestly, it is pointless to separate all car windscreens from bricks. In the end, I do not throw those bags at the wall. I simply pack it in the bag and I put it in one place. With time, it is hardly practical to put every window in extra bag. It is however, good way to secure bricks during transport.

LEGO Classic
Bags filled with bricks

String bags are brilliant idea and whoever invented them, should get a Nobel price. They can easily be opened or closed and are durable enough to survive years. Ideally used for segregating bricks and store in form of sets. However, they are not practical for storing spare bricks, for which you will need quick access. I will write more about it in further part of an article.

2. Cartons

LEGO Classic
Boxes

Having bricks packed in bags, we come to the next problem. How to store bags so as not to confuse the bricks and be able to quickly find a particular set. When purchasing the bricks, we can get them in various forms, especially the used sets. Sometimes we can buy a set with original packaging. However, as a collector, the rarity such as this I will put aside and not use it for the storage, to not destroy it. So what can you do? You can try to use old shoe box or the other boxes remained from various bought things, but this is not practical. Boxes of different sizes have various method of closing and are variously durable. Some are strong, the second will fall apart after a week. It can not be used in the long run. It would be a good idea to find boxes, which will be possible to purchase at any time, so there would be no problem to buy more if necessary. Where to buy such a thing? Well, I know where to buy such things in Poland, but I hardly can recommend any shop in US or in other EU country. Nevertheless, I suspect you will not find such boxes in supermarket, which are extremely expensive and not practical for a long run. I have found several internet shops in Poland that offers cardboard boxes in reasonable prices like 0,30 USD or 0.25 EUR for one big box presented below. I think such shops are available in US or any other country in EU too. If you find such place for your location, please share it in comment section below! Thanks! It can be useful for other readers from other countries.
Nevertheles, boxes must have certain dimensions and this brings new obstacles. I wanted to buy a few boxes of specific dimensions, but in the same kind. I did not want to mix white with brown or extremely different sizes. To store a set with base plate of 256x256mm (10x10″) size I need boxes with the width and length of at least 26cm (10,5″). The other problem I had with the LEGO-4031-1 boat's hull, which is more than 40cm (15,75″) long and 8cm (3,15″) tall. I needed appropriate box for this and it was a big problem, because it is pretty hard to find such wide box and again not too deep or too long.
Finally, my search has been narrowed down to one store in Poland, which offers all the dimensions of the boxes I needed in a good price. I suspect you should be able to find the similiar boxes in your country. I will desribe dimensions of cartons I am using to store all the sets.

LEGO Classic
Boxes opened

The dimensions are given in the following order: length, width and height.

LEGO Classic
Large box with boats
Large (40 x 29,5 x 11,5 cm | 15,75 x 11,61 x 4,53″) - The largest box that once in a while you may find useful. Especially when it comes to large boat hulls that floats on water. As they are not assembled from several parts, it was necessary to find a box big enough to accommodate them. The largest boat from LEGO-4031-1 set is not even able to fit straight here. I had to place it diagonally. Fortunately, it worked. There was no wider box in the offer of similar dimensions, I would need to buy a very large and deep box, and it would be impractical. Such packaging may also be useful for the train, but the majority of medium and large sets will fit in smaller boxes. It is better to divide the sets into several smaller boxes than to put five large sets in one.

LEGO Classic
Big box with harbour set
LEGO Classic
Big box with couple of Technic sets
Big (30,5 x 30,5 x 10 cm | 12 x 12 x 3,94″) - most practical box, which I found to store very large sets such as 6542-1: Launch & Load Seaport or Lego-6597-1. It is also useful for keeping eg. Police sets. Many of them were released in Town theme and you can pack them in two such large boxes. The dimensions are quite good, because the base plate easily fit in here, leaving some space at the sides. Moreover, if we have a set with 3D base plate such as LEGO-6081-1 or Lego-6416-1, these would be the appropriate box. Moreover, this box proved to be the best to store Technic sets, as these are typically large and have a thick instructions.

LEGO Classic
Box with leisure sets
LEGO Classic
Box with construction sets
Medium (32 x 27 x 4,8 cm | 12,60 x 10,63 x 1,90″) - that box is most practical to store medium and small sets. After several attempts to segregate sets I can say that the best method is to segregate by the purpose. Not by year or size, but by the purpose of the vehicle or building. If I want to get construction set, it is better to have them in one place rather than scattered in 5 boxes. Similarly, the water, flight or leisure sets. I present above construction vehicles packed in a single box. I managed to fit about 12 sets in there, some in double or tripple quantity. Boxes are high for 5 centimeters, which gives enough space to accommodate even assembled vehicle. The second example is a set with baseplate. Please note that the box has dimensions of 32x27cm (12,60 x 10,63″), into which baseplate of 25,6 x 25,6 cm (10x10″) size can ideally fit. In this box you can fit eg. three leisure sets like 6349-1: Holiday Villa, 6388-1: Holiday Home with Campervan and Lego-6592-1. 6392-1: Airport or Lego-6397-1 can fit in here without a problem also.

LEGO Classic
Small carton with 6482 set

Small (18 x 14 x 5 cm | 7,08 x 5,51 x 1,97″) - it seems very cool, because it is small and medium sets such as 6361-1: Mobile Crane or 6482-1: Rescue Helicopter can fit perfectly in here. However, I must say that this is not very practical way to store sets. I have kept several small and medium sets in those small cartons and after couple times of laying scenery I decided to switch to medium boxes. Why? First of all, it's harder to find a set, because you have to flip through 10 boxes instead of one or two. Additionally, you can quickly get lost at where current set supposed to be. Instructions will start to fly in chaos short after that. That is why I gave up on use of these boxes and I prefer to simply put all construction sets in one medium box instead of three small ones. Nevertheless, they deserve mentioning, especially when you have some favorite set that you would like to pack separately, then these boxes will be perfect.

In summary, I am very pleased with this investment. I have found these solid boxes in pretty good prices. I have spent about 12 EUR (or 13,5 USD) for 20-30 medium/big boxes including shipping costs. I can pack even a hundred sets in such cartons. In addition, it is worth noting that these cartons are very durable. I have made a two-meter tower out of them and it stands still. Who collects Lego bricks knows how heavy they can be. Such a two-meter tower of cardboard boxes filled with bricks can weigh up to 30kg (66lb).

3. Labels

LEGO Classic
Labels

Bricks are packed in string bags, which have been put in cartons. It would be good to mark them somehow. After collecting dozens of sets and packing them into several boxes another problem appeared, because it is pointless to open every box when I forgot where I put one specific set. I started to stick labels on every box as you can see in above picture. I put prepared label with all sets contained within on the front flap, and sometimes in the upper part of the package. I create labels by myself by cutting out screenshots out of my Unibricsum program or by creating simple text table, when images will not fit. I print the label on a regular piece of A4 paper, cut it out and I stick it with ordinary office glue. It holds reliably. Easy solution, but saves a lot of time in the process of searching a particular set. With such labeled cartons I am able to find the seeking set in a matter of seconds.

Additional and spare bricks 

LEGO Classic
Organizers

The next stage of each collector is to gather additional and spare blocks. This can not be avoided, because we need spare parts and each of us like to build custom structures once in a time and for that we need additional bricks. Mixing bricks from different sets is not a good idea, especially since not all of the bricks will fit together. Bricks can have different shades, and new pieces differs noticeably from the old out of 90s. I'm not saying that they are worse or better, they are just different. Qualitatively it looks good too, but they are, however, more smooth and shiny than the older ones.
Additional bricks can be stored in many ways and probably everyone has a developed his methods by now. The first thing I did when I started is the purchase of organizers presented above. They have adjustable partitions, which allows packing bricks of different sizes as needed. It would seem that this is a pretty cool solution and takes care of the problem. However, with time, when I gathered more bricks, the situation looked a bit different. Organizers have began to be tiring, because usually you need to open all of them to get to a few bricks. They occupy a lot of space, and worst of all, the blocks will always find a way to jump to the adjacent compartments plunging everything into chaos again, despite of previous careful sorting. Frustration comes as you have to segregate everything again. In addition, the compartments does not offer enough space and finally you have to store bricks in other places, such as bags or boxes. Therefore, organizers are good, but only at the beginning or when you are going to gather smaller amounts of bricks only. However, if you are going to collect larger amounts, you have to think about something more advanced.

Advanced organizers


I admit that at this stage I had a big problem, because I had no idea what to buy and what would be ideal for storing bricks. In the end, I needed a large amount of space, but also a considerable amount of compartments. I needed a quick and easy access without the need to flip loads of bricks to get to the one which I sought. I was looking for something perfect, and again not expensive. In supermarkets nothing interesting were available - organizers of poor quality, often gnarled and, above all, are not suitable for expansion. Not to mention about terribly inflated prices. In desperation, I began to re-search the Web once again and eureka! I encountered an article of another fan of Lego, who described on his blog the organizers from Profix PX series. I decided to try them out and I do not regret it, because they are simply brilliant. 

LEGO Classic
Organizers

I have not seen anything better so far. There are four models of organizers, where one costs approx. 5 EUR in Poland. Similar boxes should be available in other countries as well, but probably under different name. Small cabinet with two, four, six, or twelve solid drawers is available for purchase. The main advantages are:
Robust design. Plastics, from which the drawers are made is thick, solid, not contorted as it happens in cheaper organizers. Drawers look like glass.
The ability to connect cabinets in any way. On the sides and at the top are grooves, by which we can join the two cabinets horizontally or vertically. Joining is so strong that there is no chance to fell apart. Finally, you can determine where you want to have which compartments. In addition, there is always the possibility of further expansion of the case.
Removable drawers. Very useful thing. At any time you can take out one drawer only. No need to flip through the five big organizers and open everything up. You can take the drawer, pick up interesting brick and put it back. The solution is much better than the drawers with lock.
Vertical arragement. Saving space is also important, especially when the room dimensions are limited. Organizers holds very good vertically giving ability to build a wall. Weight of the bricks is so well distributed that there is no chance to overturn it.
The possibility of combining drawers - containers for case PX-6 and PX-12 are the same. This gives you another nifty possibility of mixing drawers of PX-12 and PX-6. You can put four small drawers into two rows and in the third put one larger PX-6 drawer. It all depends on what you want and how would you like to distribute the bricks.
LEGO Classic
Cases with bricks

Those organizers are available in many shop in Poland. I think you should be able to find such orgranizers in your country. One of the sites, where this cases are available in english language is here.
Small drawers of the cabinet PX-12 have additional two grooves on both sides to make three compartments, which gives even greater storage capabilities of the smallest components such as joiners from Technic.

LEGO Classic
Small drawers with compartments

In summary, I can honestly recommend it because it facilitate greatly the search for bricks and saves a lot of space and time.

LEGO Classic
Drawers

From experience I can say that it is better to segregate bricks by its type, rather than color. Personally I have arranged all bricks so that one drawer contains usually only one type of the brick. This mainly applies to the standard bricks as flat 1x2, 1x4 or thick 1x4, 1x3, etc. Bricks rarely used as handles you need to mix with each other, to use all the space available in the drawers. However, if I have a choice in the kind of sorting between the type and color, I will choose the type always. Our eyes quickly distinguish colors, shapes are more difficult. Especially in a pile of bricks. The shape is sometimes difficult to see at first and you need turn over some bricks to find what you are looking for. All of this takes time. Finding one red 1x2 brick in a heap of different types of the same color will be much longer than to find the same flat brick in a pile of bricks of the same type, but different colors. This type of sorting is much more efficient and that I can recommend.

Finally, we come to an end of my lengthy story. The last stage, which I did so far is to label drawers. I had a problem with that, because having one large case can be problematic. It is not always visible through the front of the drawer what is inside and it is hard to remember what lays in every drawer. If you will use compartments in the smallest drawers, then you definitely won't see what is inside. That's why I started to put labels on them, so I can locate drawer much faster now. I have printed them on self-adhesive paper available for pennies at any paper store.

LEGO Classic
Cases with bricks

The effect can be seen above. Definitely makes it easier to locate drawer with the type of brick you are looking for. It can save much time.

Summary

I can say that after nearly a year and a half intenstive collecting of Lego bricks I am satisfied with the current methods I have developed to store the bricks. I spent some time searching for different solutions in the network, looking for shops and buying various bags and boxes before I found those perfect ones. I hope that this article will help some of you and maybe you will save a lot of time and perhaps even money. I use methods presented in this article and I have no need for a change now, these are satisfactory.
In order to not be groundless, I present below my entire collection of bricks, which I so far collected. Everything is packed in bags and arranged in labeled boxes just as I described. It is about 260 sets from the smallest as 6501-1: Sport Convertible to the largest like LEGO-8865-1 or 6542-1: Launch & Load Seaport.

LEGO Classic
My collection 2016-04

Thanks for reading the article and feel free to leave a comment below, especially if you have your own methods as good or even better.
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