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LEGO Tools, Tips, and Techniques

LEGO Tools: Graph Paper (in scale — side view)

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[Update 8/7/12 — I just did a revision of my old LEGO Graph Paper; the thumbnail above is new, and the attached PDF is new; all the other info below is the same.]

This is a brief follow-up to my previous post on using graph paper as a tool for LEGO building. That article talked about the top-down view paper. This is side-view paper, depicting the height of bricks, but also helpfully broken down into individual plates, as well.

This graph paper measures 24 studs by 24 bricks and is numbered on all 4 sides, in different directions so that you can get just about whatever count you want. I’ve also made heavier lines depicting bricks, so it’s easier to find your place and count.

I’ve also made the document a pdf so it is extra easy for anyone to download and print. Enjoy!

Design Grid – 1:1 Scale [24×24 Side View]

[Older version of this page and graph paper originally post March 15, 2010]

See all LEGO Graph Paper available

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LEGO Tools, Tips, and Techniques

LEGO Tool: Lego Graph Paper (in scale — top view)

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overhead-grid

When designing portraits and sculptures out of Lego, one thing that can be extremely helpful is graph paper.

Now, you couldjust go out and buy some standard graph paper, but we can take it a step further. How about graph paper that is designed specifically for Lego bricks — the squares measure the right dimensions. Now that would be awesome.

And there are a number of places out there on the web that you can find various Lego graph paper, but I wasn’t satisfied by anything I found, so I designed my own.

My graph paper measures 24 studs by 28 studs and is numbered on all 4 sides, in different directions so that you can get just about whatever count you want. I’ve also made heavier lines every 4 studs, so it’s easier to find your place and count.

I’ve also made the document a pdf so it is extra easy for anyone to download and print. Enjoy!

Design Grid – 1:1 Scale [24×28 Top View Numbered, 4×4 delineations]

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LEGO Tools, Tips, and Techniques

LEGO Tools: A Paperclip

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paperclipA what? A paperclip? As a tool for use with LEGO? Yes, indeed.

Paperclip as a LEGO tool

What kind of LEGO tool is a paperclip good for?

In a word: tiles.

In five words: tiles on a big baseplate.

Have you ever tried putting a tile on a baseplate or other large LEGO and noticed that it’s hard to get off? About the only  time it’s easy is when it’s right on the edge of the baseplate.

Take a close look at some of your LEGO tiles. Around the bottom edge there is a nice little groove  for you to access. Just position the paperclip under the groove and move.

tiles-on-baseplate tile-close-up paperclip-under-tile

Some Caveats

Fingernails

Fingernails are another viable option if you have strong nails and if you’re willing to risk breaking a nail. Not me. Give me a paperclip.

Teeth

Do we even need to go there? Yes.

Many of my legacy LEGO pieces (i.e. the bricks I still have from my childhood) have teethmarks because it had not occurred to me to use some other type of tool. Half of this problem was solved when the Brick Separator was invented. But not for tiles. Andthat’s what the paperclip was invented for. 🙂

Metal

On the other hand, you still want to keep in mind that this is a hard object you’re using against a soft object. Metal versus plastic. And therefore there is the possibility that the paperclip will scratch or in some other way damage the LEGO. Just be careful!

Where a Paperclip won’t work.

Okay. If you were “smart enough” to bury a tile in the middle of a bunch of other bricks taller than it, get ready to tear apart a portion of your creation to get to it, if you decide that tile is the wrong color, or that you want something else there. And don’t say I didn’t warn you! 🙂

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LEGO Tools, Tips, and Techniques

LEGO Tools: How to build your own LEGO Ruler

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Here are some pictures demonstrating how to build one of  the LEGO Rulers that I discussed in my previous post.

LEGO Ruler Variation A: The Porcupine

In case it isn’t obvious, this one gets its name from the use of the Technic pins along the one side.

Step 1

lego-ruler-a-step-1

Start with 5 2×6 plates.

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LEGO Tools, Tips, and Techniques

LEGO Tools: LEGO Ruler

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Does that title sound mildly redundant? Maybe it did. But I’m not just talking about your standard 12 inch ruler. This one is made out of LEGO. It doesn’t measure inches or centimeters — just units of LEGO. The original idea for this one comes  from Allan Bedford and The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide. A LEGO ruler comes in very handy when you’re building things on a bigger scale, or when you’re trying to get some details just right.

Here’s my original build of Allan’s design:

lego-ruler-bedford

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LEGO Tools, Tips, and Techniques

LEGO Tools: Presser-Poker

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Allan Bedford, author of The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide, (a book I highly recommend), presents instructions for building this tool in his book, though he calls it a “presser.” While I’ve used it for pressing, I also use it for poking, and extracting. And I don’t really like the name, “presser,” — sounds more like a piece of dry-cleaning equipment, whereas with “poker,” I think of a fire-place tool, since I’ve had fireplaces in most homes I’ve lived in. Although that term isn’t completely satisfactory either. So, for now I’ve settled on a “Presser-Poker.”

Allan offered a basic design, and mentioned that you could use just about any number of designs. Here are a few of mine:

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LEGO Tools, Tips, and Techniques

LEGO Tip: Lose Your Building Instructions? No problem…

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Maybe they disappeared in a move. Or your baby sister tore them to shreds. Or the dog ate them. For whatever reason, most of us have, at some time, lost building instructions. Apart from trying to put the thing back together from memory, stealing your best friend’s instructions, or just plain never building the set again, there are a number of sources online for you to recover instructions.

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LEGO Tools, Tips, and Techniques

LEGO Tools: The Brick Separator

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This has to be the most obvious LEGO tool available. Besides teeth. And my teeth became very happy when this puppy hit the market! Unfortunately, it wasn’t available until after my parents decided I was too old to get any new LEGO stuff, and I did not obtain one until I was an adult. Now I have several, and use them frequently. My favorite is green (probably has something to do with that being my favorite color!).