Recently Box4Blox sent us a couple sets of their sorting system to review. First off, if you aren’t familiar with Box4Blox, it is a series of stacking trays. Each tray has openings in the bottom, much like a seive. The openings in the trays get smaller as you continue down the stack. This has the effect of sorting your pieces by size.
As my kids have their own collections, I let them use one of the Box4Blox sets. It sorted their pieces by size and made it easier for them to find those small pieces that get lost in among the larger ones. They had a lot of fun with it and I was happy that it worked as advertised. But now was the time to try it out on my own collection.
I was intrigued to see if this system would be of use in my own, more complex, sorting arrangement. I started off with my bin of green plates. I use these a lot for landscaping but had never taken the time to sort them by size. I figured this would be a good initial test. At first I dumped the whole bin into the top tray. This clogged up the tray and it took a lot of shaking before the pieces began moving down. So I dumped it all back into my bin and I used a large Pick-a-Brick cup to dump smaller amounts into the tray. This sped up the process and I was able to run the entire bin throught the Box4Blox in sort order. As each tray filled up, I dumped them into seperate piles.
After I was done, I shuffled throught the piles and was happy to see that each pile was made up a distinct group of pieces. So, while the trays didn’t sort out the pieces into each individual kind, they did make the job much easier. I only had to sort out the 3 or 4 different kinds in each pile, instead of tackling the entire bin. That was most satisfying.
Next, I decided to give the Box4Blox a real workout. I have a large 18 gallon tub where I throw everything that needs sorted. I’d been lazy and hadn’t sorted it for quite a long time. The tub was almost full and the job was overwhelming. So I put in a movie and started dumping cupfulls of pieces into the trays. I did run into a couple of problems. Pieces that were long and thin tended to fall through to the bottom, but remain standing straight up. This blocked the flow but after I discovered this, I would grab those out before I dumped the pieces in. After that, I didn’t have much trouble and I made good progress. After about an hour, I hit bottom.
Unlike the plates, when the trays filled up I dumped them into plastic bags. I had stacked the full bags into seperate piles, based on which tray the pieces came from. After I was done, I took all the bags from one pile and I dumped them out on the table. I spread the pile out and could see that each of the bags had the same kinds of pieces in it. The Box4Blox basically pre-sorted my 18 gallon tub in a little over an hour and greatly simplified the rest of the job. Now, when I have some spare time, I can grab one of those bags and quickly sort it out. I don’t have to take on the whole heap and I know that each bag contains specific kinds of pieces.
Overall, Box4Blox easily surpassed my expectations. Not only is it a good product for keeping the kids’ bricks sorted, it also has a definite place in the Adult hobby as a pre-sorter. I recommend it.
I’ve always wondered whether one of these would be useful for a large collection. Thanks for giving me the heads up! I think I just might invest in one now.
This looks pretty cool. I watched the video on their website, and it looks effective. I’ll post this at Bricksinmotion.com.
This just might be what I’m after…
I have had one of these sorting systems for a long while now, and I must disagree with you ok it’s usefulness. I find that the sorting from this is at best mediocre, especially with plates, which have an extremely annoying tendency to fall straight through. I have repeatedly tried to get this system to work to my advantage, but I never can, and always just find myself using the trays as basic storage.
@Alan – Don’t worry about diagreeing with me. I really don’t mind. ;) Though I am sorry that your experience was different than mine. It sounds like you might be expecting too much from it. As I said in my review, this is useful as a pre-sort. It will not do more than an initial sort by size. If you were expecting it to sort each type of piece, then I can understand if you feel its mediocre. As for me, I was not expecting much, so I was pleasantly surprised. I figured only my kids would be able to use it. Instead it has cut my sorting time down substantially. For me, that initial pre-sort is well worth the price of this unit.
You also mention that you had troubles with plates falling straight through. I put about 5 pounds of green plate though mine and the only ones that I had fall through were those that were 1 stud in width. I actually had more troubles with thin pieces, such as antennaes, technic axles, and 1xn bricks.
Having a (Relatively small) Technic collection, I think Box 4 Blox would be a little overkill for me (Any chance of a finer grid model?). Otherwise, the only complaint I have is the website refers to bricks as “legos” (*gasp*)
Interesting product and I’m sure it’d be useful. However, it seems like the colors on this make it more kid oriented. I’d die to have such vibrant colors among my collection just for the purpose of holding bley and black. I use uniform white Sterilite 3-drawer containers all across the board.
That’s funny i just got mine in the mail and hope this works as you said. even a 5% decrease in time sorting is a lot when you sort 5 lbs a day! as for the color I think Nannan is too uptight. Gosh it is just sorting legos! besides just stick this sucker in one of your Sterilite drawers!
I have been looking at this product for a while now and wondered if it is something that would be useful or not to me. I am pleased to see that they are as useful as they say they are. I will most likely be picking one of these up for myself in the next few months. Thanks for the review. …now if we can just get one in ALL BLACK for Nannan.
You didn’t talk about price which is an important factor in determining value. The best price, according to the website would be $35.40 per unit if purchased in a set of two. Here in Canada it would be $41.25 for one unit.
On a purely functional level, I’d get one of these in a heartbeat. At the prices listed on their website, I’d have to consider carefully how much sorting I have to do (quantity ad frequency) to make it a worthwhile investment.
– Hmm, can you tell I have been in a project management training session for the last three days?
Hmm, I might get one of these!
I’ve still got half my giant collection completely unsorted, and this would help with pre-sorting into size.
‘Course, it’s a dang 35 bucks, so it might have to wait a while to get to the forefront of my Lego budget.
On ebay: $29 shipping… http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&item=150297679681
^ Denis, the price I quoted includes shipping which on the eBay offer is $9.00 for a single unit. That makes a total cost of $38 by my math which is more expensive (per item) than buying two from the company website.
I am not suggesting these things are outrageously priced but it is a significant cost that has to weighed against benefits.
My bad ted, thought you we just talking about one…
I have two of these, they are pretty good at sifting too.
Interesting. I had been lenient, but if it works for you, then that’s great!
I got one of these as a freebie from somewhere a few years ago, and I tried it out. My biggest complaint, which I don’t see mentioned anywhere, was noise. It made such a huge racket to shake the thing to make the pieces fall down. Much louder than normal LEGO raking.
But really I felt it was pretty useless. Long plates and bricks tended to fall through and clog, as described above. It only generates about 4 levels of resolution, and those were so inaccurate as to be of little use. I can get the same effect with my bare hand, scooping bricks out of a tub of unsorted parts, by varying the space between my fingers. That’s much quieter and free.
I ended up giving my box4blox to a fellow LUG member but I don’t know if he ever had any luck with it. I would very strongly NOT recommend this product.
As I sort my bricks by color, it would be pointless for my to get one of these, but I appreciate the review.
I tried sorting by color for a while, but I got tired of looking for small parts among the other parts of the same color. It’s a lot easier to spot a piece of a particular color among a bunch of pieces of the same size/type than it is to spot a piece of a particular size/type among pieces of the same color.
That actually pretty neat, though I would store the boxes apart from my collection after sorting the bricks. Personally, the only reason I’d buy this is for the easy sorting, (which is what it’s for) not the storage. I’ve got cooler looking drawers for that. =)
This is a nice tool, but pricy for what it does. And it doesn’t have enough of a fine filter for 1×1 plate rounds and other tiny elements it seems. If I want something more exacting, I may just have to build it myself from wood. :)
To me this is a luxury item, I first saw these several months ago and they looked good, but I couldnt justify the cost, not to say they are overpriced but I would rather spend the $35 on brick at this point. I spose once I accumulate more parts I might change my mind.
Has anyone considered making something like this? I had the thought when the “sifting kitty litter boxes” first came out. hadn’t seriously considered trying it though. I had thought of taking 3 dish pans and then drilling different sized holes in a grid pattern those dish pans are about $3.50 a piece.
I rather buy a set for $40. :)
I agree with Josh’s statement as to pre-sorting. I got one several months ago when I stumbled on a 150 pound unsorted lot at a yard sale. You gotta pull them 1x plates and long pieces out before you start shaken it and a large PAB cup is the perfect amount to pour in each time. Great review, Josh.
from the FAQ: “for you real mad keen Lego enthusiasts, you will find the BOX4BLOX invaluable just as sorter” I probably have 250 lbs of unsorted LEGO from summer garage sale & Craigslist finds so I guess I qualify as a real mad keen LEGO enthusiast. Based on Josh’s review I’ll probably pick one up now for pre-sorting.
How does it do colour ; )
I’m sorting by color now and it occurs to me that doing a size sort per color wouldn’t be a bad thing at all when the initial sort is finished.
Yay. More sorting. :|
Ooh… this looks usefull!
I should get me one of these.