Introduction: How to Mine in Minecraft

Picture of How to Mine in Minecraft

In this instructable I'm going to teach you how to mine in Minecraft. There are so many ways to approach mining in Minecraft. I want to cover some of the ways you can get started whether it is careful planning or just jumping right into it!

Learn more about the ores you will be encountering and what you can do with them in my Instructable:
Mining in Minecraft.

Step 1: Setting Up a Mining Station

Picture of Setting Up a Mining Station

Before you go exploring down into your mines (whatever type of mine they may be) it is a good idea to set up a mining station. What you put it in is up to you, but here are some suggestions and the reasoning behind them.

It helps to have one of these at the surface of your mine, but you can have it wherever and you can make more as your area of exploration expands.

  • Bed - if you die, you will spawn back here instead of somewhere far away
  • Chest - hopefully you will mine many things and you won't be able to hold it all, having a chest in a safe place is a good way to save your items especially if you were to die
  • Furnace - so you can smelt the ores you find
  • Crafting Table - you will undoubtedly need more tools and other various items while mining, it is good to have a crafting table nearby

Step 2: Tools of the Trade

Picture of Tools of the Trade

In order to mine you are going to need tools.

Crafting Tools (wood, stone, iron, diamond, and gold):

  • 1 Ore + 2 Sticks = Shovel
  • 3 Ores + 2 Sticks = Pickaxe
  • 2 Ores + 1 Stick = Sword

Fixing Tools:

As you use your tools, they will wear down. The bar indicating the amount of uses left on it will start green and go red when it is about to break. If you take two worn down tools (of the same material) and craft them together, it will combine their uses they have left. They will take up one place in your inventory instead of two now.

What to Carry with you:

  • Pickaxes - you will have to start with a stone pickax, most likely, so carry a couple of them. When you can, start carrying an iron pickax to get those ores that need at least that to be mined
  • Shovel - when you are mining, you probably won't run into dirt or sand, but there can be some and you are bound to run into gravel, it can be handy to have a shovel to speed up your digging
  • Sword - as long as you are playing on survival, you will run into a hostile mob, and you will need to defend yourself
  • Signs - or someway to mark where you have been. It can get confusing when you explore mines formed in the game, paths go in all different directions and it can be hard to find your way back to your mining station or the surface
  • Food - you will need it eventually, it is good to have some with you and some stored at your station
  • Buckets - they can be stacked, but they will take up their own spaces when filled, so keep that in mind for space, but it can be handy to have a bucket of water to put out lava, or have an empty bucket to collect that lava
  • Torches - lots of them, you will need them to see what you are doing and to prevent mobs from spawning near you; they can also be used as markers to show where you have been or where you are going
  • Dirt - I find it handy to have a stack of dirt with you, I use it to get around lava and pits, and also to mark off where I have been; it is nice since it is easy to break and pick back up and it really stands out against the stone
  • Wood - great to have in case you need to build tools, crafting table, torches, etc.


  • 6 Wooden Planks + 1 Stick = 3 Signs
  • 3 Iron Ingots (in a "v") = 1 Bucket

Step 3: Carts and Rails

Picture of Carts and Rails

The more you play the game, the more efficient you can be. Some things you can make that will make mining more efficient are carts and tracks. These start pretty basic and can be souped up to be pretty awesome.

Crafting Minecarts

  • 5 Iron Ingots in a "u" = Minecart
  • Minecart + Chest = Minecart with Chest
  • Minecart + Furnace = Minecart with Furnace
  • Minecart + Hopper = Minecart with Hopper
  • Minecart + TNT = Minecart with TNT

Crafting Rails:

  • 6 Iron Ingots + 1 Stick = 16 Rails
  • 6 Gold Ingots + 1 Stick + 1 Redstone = 6 Powered Rails
  • 6 Iron Ingots + 1 Stone Pressure Plate + 1 Redstone = 6 Detector Rails
  • 6 Iron Ingots + 1 Redstone Torch + 2 Sticks = 6 Activator Rails

Step 4: TNT

Picture of TNT

TNT can be used to help with mining, but you need to keep in mind that it will destroy some of the resources that are released from broken blocks.

It is more of aid in removing large areas quickly and not for actually mining resources.

You can light the TNT in different ways, but the most common way is with a Flint and Steel. Some resources are immune to explosions, such as Obsidian, and can be used to direct explosions and prevent things from being destroyed.

When TNT is ignited, it will jump slightly and then blink white as it counts down to exploding. The delay is only about 4 seconds, so it is best to run once it's lit.

  • 4 Sand Blocks + 5 Pieces of Gunpowder = 1 TNT
  • 1 Iron Ingot + 1 Flint = Flint and Steel

Step 5: Cave Mining

Picture of Cave Mining

The easiest and most common way to min in the game is cave mining. It just consists of exploring the world and finding exposed mines and gorges. Then exploring the cave and mining out any exposed ores and resources. Once everything is found, you can move on.

*After trying out all of the methods mentioned in this Instructable, this method seems to yield the best results. It takes less time (since you don't have to do as much digging) and you are likely to find a bigger variety of ores.

Step 6: Abandoned Mines

Picture of Abandoned Mines

Abandoned mines are great. They are a wealth of resources and that includes more than just exposed ores such as Saddles which cannot be crafted, they have to be found. In mines you will find:

  • Rails - you can collect and place elsewhere
  • Chests - a gold mine of supplies plus now you have a chest
  • Carts - one less thing to make and you can use them to get around, but be careful, rails are rarely complete in abandoned mines
  • Webs - can be destroyed with a sword to get string

Step 7: Shaft Mining

Picture of Shaft Mining

Shaft mining involves just digging on your own in the pursuit of ores.

The main way to shaft mine is to dig a staircase leaving you enough room to jump your way back to the surface. You can also actually place stairs which are convenient since jumping up blocks takes more energy and with stairs you can just walk back up.

Be careful not to dig straight down as you can dig into existing caves, receive damage and possibly fall into lava.

I mentioned stairs, but that isn't the only way to get up and down in a shaft mine. To get back up, you can also craft and use ladders. They are convenient as you only need a 1 by 1 square shaft to get back up. Another way to get back up is to first pour out a bucket of water at the top of a shaft and use that to swim back up when you are at the bottom.

To get down you can used stairs, and ladders (both as mentioned) or destroy a block and place a bucket of water which will create a 1 by 1 block of water. You can jump and land into any depth of water from any height and not receive any damage at all.


  • 6 Stone Blocks / Wood Planks = 4 Stairs
  • 7 Sticks = 3 Ladders

Step 8: Branch Mining

Picture of Branch Mining

Once you have dug your shaft mine, you can start to go out and do branch mining. This is good when you have gotten to a level that should have the resources you want. It will give you more chances of running into that resource.

In order to be the most efficient with this method, you are going to want to dig out 1 block branches leaving 3 blocks in between them. This will result in the most space being covered and the greatest likelihood that resources will not be missed.

Step 9: Quarry Mining

Picture of Quarry Mining

Quarry mining covers the most space while mining.

When creating a quarry you need to decide 1) how big of a quarry you want and 2) how are you going to get back out.

Start by digging out your first layer of the quarry. You may want to consider starting no higher than sea level as some of the ores can't be found until you've gone down a ways. Take into consideration how you are going to get in and out of this quarry, i.e. if you need a ladder, decide where it is going to be located and start placing it; if you are going to create a staircase, get it started.

Then you just keep digging down!

Step 10: More Minecraft

Picture of More Minecraft


BrettG5 (author)2016-04-02

Nice job with the 'ible. I thought it was nice, and I hadn't heard of quarry mining before, so thanks!

Crafter40171 (author)2017-10-30

have you tried the ladder up staircase down method? it works well

Not sure if I've heard of that method. Do you have a picture of what it looks like?

mxvsatv (author)2016-12-16

quarry mining is also compact mining.

ThomasK19 (author)2015-08-22

Have you ever tried straight mining? Go down a stair to level 7. Then dig straight 2 blocks height. Place a torch about every 20 blocks. Make a T ending 3 blocks high after 7-10 torches. Go back to the stairs and make a 3 block high parallel vein to the one on the other end. Now dig a 2 block high vein every 3 blocks in parallel to the first (to and fro). This way you sieve out most diamonds with least effort. Have a bucket of water ready ASAP to extinguish lava. Greetz from an ole digger.

mxvsatv (author)ThomasK192016-12-16

i will try on xbox 360 or ps3

its more beneficial to mine at level 11 cause lava lakes spawn at level 10. It makes life just that much simpler

You're right (found that too after my son pointed that out ;-) OTOH I find it challenging to react to lava flowing down and make my way under dripping lava or to build a tunnel through a lava sea :-)

VictoriaA29 (author)2016-04-25

Lol I love Minecraft

stampyfan11 (author)2015-11-01


stampyfan11 made it! (author)2015-11-01

wow i did it

ThomasK19 (author)2015-08-22

Hehe. Looks like my previous comment was superfluous ;-)

bryguy00 (author)2015-07-16


hey ponelopy my brother is paracord weaver

ihascookie (author)2015-01-10


muhummud (author)ihascookie2015-03-07

ihascookie you copied ihadcupcuake!! STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU LOVE HER!!

blackholeseeker (author)2015-02-05

For a 100% chance of ores and diamonds make a 16x 16x square with 1 block left in the corner. keep doing that so you keep making a staircaise.

SwaggerFul Swellow (author)2014-12-11

Thanks so much for ALL your Minecraft Instructables! It has really helped a previously "Nooby" Minecrafter, transform his playing to being a master!

Glad I was able to help! Love the game, but I know I still have a lot to learn :)

not a duck (author)2014-06-07

Thanks!!! i didnt know you could combine pic axes together!!! this saved me so many times.

knexsuperbuilderfreak (author)2014-05-24

This is quite well done, personally i like to do kind of a mixture of shaft and branch mining, other then just looking for caves.

I gave the quarry mining a go and it does great if you need stone/cobblestone in the masses. i ended up turning most of it into somewhat of a castle so far, might take it down and make it into stone bricks.

Cool castle, care to post a shot of it from above?

Opened it up in mc edit because isnt that easy to get air pics in survival, if you were wanting the circle end parts, i used this

Nice! Yeah, I find combining methods seems to work out best too :)

K4nyix (author)2014-06-01

Nice beginner 'ible, although your branch mining is not the most efficient way. In order to get diamonds, you'd have to be at lvl 10 (eye level 11) and strip mine in a slightly different way : 1 strip on level 10, then one strip 2 blocks away but two blocks up, and a last strip on top of the first one (so four blocks up)... And repeat the pattern. That way, you mine the entire area where diamonds spawn in sufficient rates, maximizing the ratio of block uncovered to block broken. There is only a couple of blocks that are not uncovered through this method, but acknowledging the way ore veins spawn it is highly unlikely one would go past a vein and not uncover any of its blocks. This method maximizes diamond yield, but the rest of the ores come at a steady rate too, making it a viable method for any and all ore mining - you'll always be in need of diamonds anyways, so might as well combine your mining and get everything at once :P

123creation (author)2014-05-27

I loved the station idea. I now have a fully furnished underground home near which I found my first diamonds! Also, any tips for growing trees underground? Thanks.

Tex Arcana (author)2014-05-27

Good 'ible, one of the better Minecraft 'ibles out there.

I like to carry a crafting table with me, because you never know when you need it in a pinch.

Good point! I always seem to end up with like 10 crafting tables because I keep making them wherever I go :P

Londonbrig0 (author)2014-05-24

This is the method I use the most. I've always done a spacing of 2, but I'm probably gonna switch to 4 soon just so I can cover more area faster and still have a high chance of catching the best ore deposits.

dbess (author)2014-05-24

I am addicted to minecraft P.E. ?

trans4mation (author)2014-05-23

This is an awesome ibble Penolopy, I wish I would have had this guide when I first played survival, haha! However I had never heard of quarry mining before, so thank you for the great ideas!

gdhenson (author)2014-05-23

Great instructable. Not to be nitpicky or anything but I there are a few typos in the section you explain minecarts.

Crafting Minecarts

  • 5 Iron Ingots in a "u" = Minecart
  • Minecart + Chest = Minecraft with Chest
  • Minecraft + Furnace = Minecraft with Furnace
  • Minecraft + Hopper = Minecraft with Hopper
  • Minecraft + TNT = Minecraft with TNT
simpsonizer made it! (author)2014-05-23

Ah... Strip mining is fun! I do pin-wheel mines starting from level 11, or where the ideal low level of lava occurs. This way you can use a bucket of water to cool the lava lakes that appear in front of your feet. Be sure to dig around to get a average of lava pool locations. In my world it ironically was level 11. Anything deeper I would dig into the lava! So, just keep an eye around 0 - 13 or so to get an idea of the lowest lava lake.

rabbit_man (author)2014-05-23

I would suggest going to 4 or maybe 5 blocks in between as the ores are clustered and nearly always cover multiple rows, so you should still find the same pocket, just the next row over. You may miss a few ores, but you would be more efficient over all.

Oldbear (author)2014-05-22

Two blocks means you don't miss anything inbetween.

Wiredfey (author)2014-05-22

Love quarry mining,especially with the buildcraft will dig for you with help from engines and only stops at lava,water,and bedrock :)

nick_hunter (author)2014-05-22

best method is "shaft mining" at level 11... you'll find gold, diamond, iron, etc.... make always corridors 3 blocks high.... descend falling into water... ascend using ladders

ulab (author)2014-05-22

When branch mining I usually dig paths 2 blocks high, and leave 3 blocks between them. On the next level two blocks down I move the paths two blocks, so they are now under the middle block of the left out blocks above. This way you can see all blocks you are passing by.

So from the side it looks like


And so on.

good inscrutable

Thank you :) I love your name! I would love to see a Paracord Minecraft Pizza :D

CraftinGenious (author)2014-05-21

No no cobble wall is better as fence sets on fire

MandalorianMaker (author)2014-05-20

yeah I get lots of coal and iron but you need good tools try strip mining first for diamond then go at it plus its easier to make buildings with all the cobble stone. one more thing make a fence around so you dont fall in lol.

Fence is an AWESOME tip! I'm always falling into holes :P

yes I speak from experience very irritating and deadly in deep ones lol.

MandalorianMaker (author)2014-05-20

gr8 ible I like to quarry mine

Thanks :) This was my first time quarry mining, do you have much luck doing it? Any tips?

I have to agree with halbox. Mine at lava lake level or lower . All ores span here. Diamonds and redstone spawn 0-15 but due to bedrock, mining above level 4 is more efficient. I tipically start at level 10 (where you see the pools of lava.) Setting up strip mines. Once I map out the area (by strip mining a 64 x 64 area with my surface access in the middle) I know where the majority of the lava lakes are I'll go down to level 5 and strip mine 90 degrees to my original mine. (the small lakes I'll fill in. What else am I going to do with all that gravel.) The big ones I'll usually mine around.

I will usually wait to strip mine until I am able to enchant some nice picks. cave mining for resources. Now If you can set up a beacon with haste and have an efficiency 5 unbreaking 3 diamond pick quary mining is much faster at these levels. As you really just melt thru the stone.

as most resources are found at Layers 13 - around 20, quarrymining isnt my choice ... at least if you dont need plenty loads of cobble ...

i prefer stripmining at the mentioned Mayers combined with mining the caves you happen to find. stripmining covers ALL Blocks in the miningarea AND is extremely efficient. and i use junpholes with water to get down from surface extremely fast...

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