LEGO has been my passion since childhood. I was fortunate to have parents who indulged my madness, and over the years I've acquired 20,000+ various bricks.
As I studied engineering, it became apparent that LEGO was quite useful for simple, rapid prototyping of mechanisms... and let's be honest, still extremely fun to play with.
However, giant plastic bins weren't quite cutting it anymore - I needed something orderly. This page documents the design and construction of my solution.
First, I sorted all my LEGO into groups to get a feeling for what storage options I should investigate.
I started sorting by color, but it soon became obvious that finding a red 1x2 plate was much easier in a pile of mixed 1x2 plates than a pile of assorted red pieces.
I settled on the following storage options:
7x Stack-On 18-drawer cabinet (Northern Tool)
1x Stack-On 60-drawer cabinet (Northern Tool)
4x Acrylic Shoe Drawer (Amazon)
These seemed a good compromise between maximizing storage space per access area, overall storage volume, and cost.
I had also considered Deflect-o Tilt-Bins
, which seem great if you have a lot of money and wall space, but you lose a lot of volume for the tilting function and have to be careful not to overfill them. Different sizes have different depths and sometimes widths, so combining them in the same way is difficult.
The main idea was to make something compact and mobile without sacrificing accessibility. The overall dimensions were largely driven by my closet size, and so an unfolding-armoire-type design was a good way to take advantage of the closet depth.
I made some rough sketches and used them as a blueprint. One design was a silly metal one, and the other made from plywood connected with dowels and brackets.
Lessons learned: wood glue is much stronger than you think, and double check your numbers. For those who happen to have SolidWorks 2011, I put together a quick CAD:
Dimensioned Drawing (pdf)
LEGO Chest CAD (sldasm)
A few photos from the construction process. Boy, I wish I had a garage or hack space for this.
Despite some measuring mishaps, the project was a big success! Quickly finding the pieces you need is extremely gratifying. While I built this in 2008, in 2012 I took some high-res photos where most of the pieces inside are identifiable.
I should note however that the chest does not contain ALL my LEGO; 4.5V railroad, monorail track, baseplates and a few other large pieces are stored in separate boxes. This is not a big problem however, as these pieces are typically needed in small numbers and infrequently.