How to store your loose LEGO bricks without losing your mind

Author, screenwriter, Celebrity Masterchef winner and adult fan of LEGO Emma Kennedy reveals how she overcame the challenge of sorting her loose LEGO bricks.

So, you’ve decided, at long last, probably because your partner or housemate has insisted upon it, to take apart a LEGO set. (Cue the screaming.) Choosing which one is in and of itself a minefield and I’ll be dealing with that in later weeks, but today we’re going to discuss what you do with your bricks after they’re lying in a heap in front of you. 

I remember, back in the old days of discovering I loved LEGO as an adult, that I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with sets I didn’t fall madly in love with. Back then there was also very little space available that passed muster with the non-AFOL adult in the house, and my “Can I put some LEGO there, please?” pleas were met with stony silence or an emphatic “No.” As a result, I found myself on an ever-moving cake walk of having to decide which set was for the chop. It was not for the fainthearted. 

Taking LEGO apart only became enjoyable after mastering all the brick separator has to offer. If you are yet to master your brick separator then I cannot over-emphasise the need to do so pronto. The ease of lifting a tile! The deliciousness of a brick clicked off cleanly! There’s no swearing! No broken fingernails! No shaking your fist at the sky or collapsing forehead-first on to the back of your hands because you’ve been trying, for half an hour, to pull out that tiny grey connector and you’ve lost the will to live.

And no, you’re not allowed to use your teeth. So, stop it.

Emma Kennedy LEGO shed 2

Taking LEGO apart, I have discovered, is now as relaxing as putting it together. There is order, there is precision and when you’re done, there are, in my case, lots and lots of little plastic pots with labels on. When I started Relax With Bricks, my LEGO YouTube Channel where I do real-time builds one bag at a time, I quickly realised that keeping my LEGO habit contained in the confines of the house wasn’t going to cut the mustard – so, with some stealth and cunning, I quietly moved my hobby into the garden shed, gradually taking over more space until I had gone from one table to three, put up shelves and surrounded myself with a wall of ordered storage pots. 

The big decision I had to make, when it came to what to do with deconstructed LEGO, was how to find the most efficient way to store it for when I wanted to use pieces for MOCs. At the beginning, when I was a gullible fool who knew nought of the ways of LEGO, I put all the pieces into one plastic tub. The very thought of this now brings me out in hives, and I soon discovered that 10 minutes looking for *that* piece you know you’ve got but you can’t quite find is ten minutes you’re never getting back. It was at this point that I had a serious decision to make: do I store my bricks according to colour or piece?

This was a no-brainer for me. When I’m building, I want to find my pieces fast, so I invested in a handful of crafting storage containers and a label maker (who amongst us does not love a label maker?) and began splitting my bricks according to piece. I started with the simple stuff – 1×2, 1×4, 1×6, 1×8; 2×2, 2×4, 2×6, 2×8; single squares; single tiles; single round tiles; you get the drift. But then I discovered I needed more, so I invented names for bricks that I would recognise: taps, teeth, sofa backs, chair corners, mini wall. Still, it wasn’t enough and it was at this point that I thought, to hell with this, I’m taking it to the next level.

Emma Kennedy LEGO storage 1

WARNING: The following may cause some of you to gasp in horror. 

It was at this point that I started cutting out pictures of pieces from instruction manuals. 

I know, I know. 

Sacrilege, but it had to be done.

The trick to brick storage, then, is to do whatever helps you find your pieces quickly and efficiently. Some people, of course, prefer to whittle away the hours with their hand in a tub of chaos trying to find that tile of a clockface they’re sure they saw six months ago. I am not. Give me order. Give me pots. Give me bricks.

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Emma Kennedy

Emma Kennedy is an author, actor, presenter and AFOL who runs Relax With Bricks on YouTube. Follow her LEGO antics on Twitter at @legowith.

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