I've found I really need a system to get things going. I just can't dig through bricks to find things while I create. It 'disturbs the flow'. I know everyone has their own good system that works for them. This one seems to work for me so I thought I'd share it.

I make these tags (above) which go on each tray. Images are from my LDraw program. Info is in sync with BrickLink so that I'm using the same language and IDs as them for repurchasing and research. Since I'm a graphic designer, I have access to page layout software to make this. I found with some experimenting that using large numbers for size worked best. Additionally, stacking the numbers rather than writing 2x4 for example makes for an easy visual scan across the shelving. A large color bar reinforces the correct color at a glance. In cases of non primary colors, I'll add a tag in lower right corner to help further specify the color. Special pieces requiring more information will have more info under the category description as seen in the headlight example above.

So far so good. The tray placement order is evolving as the collection expands but for now it seems to be netting out hierarchically at: color / brick - plate - slope - special / size. I'm very pleased with this system and find grabbing pieces I need so quick and intuitive, I hardly need to look up. (Though, I'll admit my collection is yet small. That will no doubt change when things grow larger.)

- mike


ktraphagen said...

I really like the MOC you have been working on. The final product (which I saw on The Brothers Brick blog) is amazing. Great textures. I like your ideas for bringing children's illustrated books to life with Lego bricks.

What kind of storage system (containers and shelving) did you use? I commend you on your organization (especially while you are still building your collection and before it gets impossible to catalog).

Mike Doyle said...

Hey thanks Ktaphagen!

I had a hard time finding what I wanted for storage. In the end, I picked up from Lego Education the following:
storage cabinet 44-Drawer. I like it fine but wish I could find something with fewer drawers but larger ones like these.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you could post the source files for the labels so I could print some for my drawers? Thanks.

simonvx said...

Hi there, fellow graphic designer. I'm absolutely impressed by your abandoned house, wow... I know it must be even greater to see it "in person".

I also find your labels for storage really interesting, and some people wouldn't understand, but I can say "exciting" ! That's some great, useful design there! Well, great design should be useful most of the time, but it's in the details (or lack of useless details) that we can often find what distinguishes great from "good enough", and your omission of the "x" (12 instead of 1x2) is one example... Horizontally it wouldn't have work at all in my opinion, but vertically, it's instantly understandable. I'll "borrow" the idea (thanks!) when I sort my growing collection.

When you speak of page layout software, you mean InDesign? I don't know LDraw yet, but can you export in EPS or at least high res. TIF or JPG?

Thanks for the great inspiration. Glad you made that trip to Legoland!

PS: Some background about myself: I'm a father of 2 boys, the oldest is 4.5 yrs old and literally "eating" Lego all day long. I've been out of my dark ages for 10 months now ;-) I stopped "playing" with Legoas at the age of 12 but regained interest with the first Star Wars sets for 2 years, and then it faded again. It was during the bad era of weird sets I cannot believe Lego was selling.

Now I'm longing to build "grown up" stuff but prefer to spend time with my kid building his own rainbow creations, or sometimes going back to the instructions. Mostly Toy Story, City, Trains and recently Atlantis.

"My name is Simon and I'm a BLA (BrickLink addict), too."

Mike Doyle said...

Hey thanks Simon! Sounds like we have a bit in common. I've got two boys 8 and 4, both like legos too!

LDraw is super easy I think. Free download from Lego if you google it. This is how I get the pictures of all the pieces. LDraw is just a 3D software with the library of pieces already in it. Just click on the piece you want and it appears at different angles. I just took screen shots from there.

For the format, I probably should have used Indd now that you mentioned it, but alas I started in illustrator.

Bram said...

Awesome house, Mike.

LDraw is fan developed, it's available from, not from the Lego company.

For drawers, you might try Stack-On:

The 18, 39, and 60 drawer units are all the same size, so you can mix and match easily.

Mike Doyle said...

Hey thanks Bram! Also thanks for the clarification on LDraw - boy, I got that wrong! Appreciate the tip for drawers as well!! I'll be looking these up.

Anonymous said...

Please, not legos! The plural of lego is just lego, in the same way the plural of sheep is sheep, not sheeps.

Apart from that minor grammatical point, love your work, the house is outstanding!

Anonymous said...

Love the house.

I use the same drawers. They're made by Akro-Mills, and in addition to the 44-drawer model you have, there are 24- and 64-drawer models, which are all large or small drawers, respectively. You can find them at quite a few places, Fry's, Target, and the container Store, off the top of my head.

peter hoh said...

I wouldn't go hog wild and buy a bunch of the little drawer organizers quite yet.

Give it a little more time before you settle on your style. The little drawers are nice, but they may be impractical if you scale up your collection.

You can browse flickr to see some different methods. Here's a group pool on LEGO sorting.

And here's another.

Here's the Bag and Bin method.

Portability is an issue for NXT teams. Here's a post I wrote about oragnizers for the NXT and here's a similar post on another blog.

There are some Bricklink threads about organizing that are worth looking at, too.

More ideas at Lugnet.

Finally, here's a classic essay on the theme: The Evolution of LEGO Sorting.

Tropical Ice Cube said...


It would indeed be a great contribution to the community to share those 'stickers' - with proper credits to the LDRAW gang, there shouldn't be any copyright issue I think. Issuing them in .pdf form would allow wide compatibility.


Tropical Ice Cube said...


It would indeed be a great contribution to the community to share those 'stickers' - with proper credits to the LDRAW gang, there shouldn't be any copyright issue I think. Issuing them in .pdf form would allow wide compatibility.