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This chapter is from the book

Improving Your Tools

Wooden tools wear out fast, so it’s best to upgrade your kit as quickly as possible.

Each type of material has a different level of durability. Think of durability as the number of useful actions the tool can perform before wearing out completely and disappearing from the inventory. I’ve included the durability in parentheses after each material’s description, listed from least to most durable:

  • Gold (33)—Although it is the least durable material, gold happens to be the most enchantable material, so you can imbue it with superpowers (see Chapter 10). But given that gold is about five times as rare as iron, and it can be used to craft many other useful items, I wouldn’t recommend using gold for tools.
  • Wood (60)—Wood is easy to obtain, especially in an emergency above ground, but wooden tools can’t mine the more valuable ores, such as iron, gold, diamond, and redstone. You will need a pickaxe of any kind to mine stone because digging with bare hands will just break the stone down into unusable dust.
  • Stone (132)—With over twice the longevity of wood, stone makes a great starting point for more serious mining and other activities. Stone tools are built from cobblestone blocks, which in turn come from stone. That may seem a little circuitous, but it will feel natural enough after a while.
  • Iron (251)—Iron is your go-to material. It is found between bedrock, the lowest possible level in The Overworld, and up to about 20 levels below sea level. Iron is used for building all kinds of tools, implements, and devices, including armor, buckets (for carrying water, lava, and milk), compasses, minecarts, and minecart tracks. All these require at least iron ingots, which you obtain by smelting iron ore in a furnace; each block of ore produces one ingot. Ingots and many other items are found scattered throughout the world in village chests, mineshafts, dungeons, and strongholds. You might also find them dropped from killed zombies and iron golems, if you dare tackle them.
  • Diamond (1562)—Diamond is the strongest material of all but also the most expensive, given that it is relatively rare (about 25 times as scarce as iron). A diamond pickaxe is the only kind that can successfully mine obsidian, a material required for creating the portal to reach The Nether dimension. Use iron pickaxes as much as possible and switch to diamond only when you need to mine obsidian. You’re better off saving any diamonds you find for weapons, armor, and enchantment tables.

The recipes for crafting tools from all materials are identical, except that you can replace the head of an implement with the material of your choice:

  • To make a stone pickaxe, you need two wooden sticks for the handle and three cobblestone blocks.

  • Replace the planks with stone in the crafting recipes for the axe and the sword to create stone versions of those.

  • You might also want to add a shovel to your collection, because using one is about four times faster than using hands to harvest softer materials such as dirt, gravel, sand, clay, and snow, and using a shovel helps some of those blocks deliver resources rather than just dig them out.


As you craft more items, you need to find a place to store the ones that you don’t need to use right away. You should also store other resources and food you come across on your travels. That comes next.

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