I have a massive amount of LEGO laying around in a container. It's kind of hard to sort through whenever I need parts. I was wondering if anyone has experience with many different sizes of LEGO bricks/parts and how to organize them. This seems like a problem most LEGO enthusiasts will have at some point, so is there some kind of "best practice" for a sorting scheme? What's the most suitable container to store LEGO in? Is there a common box that enthusiasts use? Do people often make their own box?
As you mentioned sorting and storing LEGO does become an issue as you start to amass a massive collection. There are however great solutions worked out already by LEGO fans. The earlier you set up a storage system that works for you, the better, and the easier it is going to be to manage your projects, and also stay enthusiastic in the hobby. Here are a couple of articles I wrote in regards to the topic, laying out what LEGO fans use and ways to get you started:
How to sort LEGO: http://thebrickblogger.com/2010/12/how-to-sort-lego/
How to store LEGO: http://thebrickblogger.com/2010/12/how-to-store-lego/
In addition, I have been maintaining a couple of Flickr Galleries where people show off their LEGO storing and sorting solutions. Seeing how other people sort and organize their LEGO can be very helpful, especially as your collection grows.
LEGO Display & Storage Ideas Gallery 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/akunthita/galleries/72157629813455752/
LEGO Display & Storage Ideas Gallery 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/akunthita/galleries/72157625185890950/
You don't have to spend that much to set up a good system. What it requires though is to think through what you want and also what kind of space you have. The above information should get you started with ideas and solutions, and you should be able to get yourself organized easily.
Sorting LEGO bricks is more complex than you might think. Frequency of use, shape of the brick, and communication with others are essential features of a good classification. Have a look at this book, it covers the sorting of LEGO bricks extensively: The Ideal Order