I am developing customizable products where the same parts can sometimes build several projects. Kind of like the same set of Lego pieces will build item #1, item #2, or item #3.

I'm looking for spreadsheet wizardry or software that can tell me that

  • The parts that will build item #1 will also build item #2, or item #3. Let's call this the Base Kit.
  • I'll also be able to build items #4 and #5 with the Base Kit if I add 2 of part A and 4 of part B.
  • I'll also be able to build items #6, #7, and #8 with the Base Kit if I add 4 of part C and 6 of Part D.
  • With both sets of add-ons, the Base Kit only builds 1 additional project... or zero... or 5 more.

The parts calculators I found were designed to calculate the parts list for just one project.

The recipe calculators I checked didn't have the needed functionality.

Now I'm hunting around for other options.

I would prefer a way to do what I want using an Excel (or Open Office) spreadsheet, since I already price parts in Excel. Next best would be software that runs on a Mac, iPad, or the web. Software cost should be under $100, preferably under $30. If over $5, I want software with a trial period of at least 5 days.


My original idea was to make a parts list of each of the 80 projects in Excel -- something like this:

Part #      item 1 uses    item 2 uses    
stick A          3                   6
stick B          8                   12   
bolt             24                  36
nut              24                  36

The parts for project #2 will build project #1, but the parts for project #1 won't build project #2.

If I then add some kind of compare function (which I don't know how to do), I would end up with a list like this:

Parts from        ...will also build
item #1
item #2             item #1
item #3             item #1, item #2
item #4             item #1
item #5
item #6             item #1, item #2, item #3
item #7             item #5, item #14, item #23

I then look for items that have several items in the "will also build" column, and use those as the basis for kits.

Here projects #3, #6, and #7 look like good candidates for kits.

Then I can search for what projects also have project #6 in the "will also build" column to find candidates for slightly extending the kit content.

  • 1
    Its an utter nitpick but its Lego, not Legos, its always singular ;p. – Journeyman Geek Jun 10 '14 at 0:08
  • I don't know any. I've been using some really lame Excel formulas to do a similar job myself. I've really been meaning to do better and just whip up a nicer PHP/MySQL app to give me better interface/results. If you don't find something feel free to ping me (using @my-user-name or design@briarmoon.ca) to check if I've got around to it. – Nick Dickinson-Wilde Jun 10 '14 at 23:10
  • Excel would actually be ideal, since I price my parts in it already. – Joy Livingwell Jun 14 '14 at 19:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.