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Whenever I use my pickaxe, a little indicator under it keeps going down:

Image of the half-empty indicator

Presumably, this indicates the remaining durability of said pickaxe. But I'm not sure how it works. Is that pickaxe getting weaker as the indicator goes down? Or is it perfectly usable until it suddenly breaks? Is there a way to repair it, other than using it up in crafting a better one? When it breaks, do I lose it completely?

In short, how does item durability actually work?

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A pickaxe remains the same strength until it reaches 0 durability, at which point it does not break entirely, but instead reduces the strength to even lower than the matter manipulator. It can be repaired at any time by right clicking on it while holding any of the ores used to make pickaxes/drills (copper, silver, gold, platinum, or diamond*).

*Due to a suspected bug, when using diamond to repair, you must use a full diamond instead of diamond ore.

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Off the top of my head I want to say it takes about ~20 copper to fully repair a platinum pickaxe. Not much at all, but I'm not sure if higher/lower tiers take more/less to repair. Also not sure if different tiers degrade faster or slower. –  Katustrawfic Dec 7 '13 at 20:04
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Oh, you can use lower tier ores to repair a pickaxe? That's good to know! –  SaintWacko Dec 7 '13 at 20:08
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I didn't know about repairing, thanx a lot, I'll check it. –  Necronomicron Dec 7 '13 at 20:54
    
@SaintWacko Yup. It's probably just some sort of hitpoint system. Higher tier pickaxes have higher durability, and an ore seems to a static number of it. (The higher pickaxes might or might not deteriorate faster but that's harder to verify.) –  millimoose Dec 8 '13 at 21:46
    
Lower-tier ores work? That's...pretty convenient, considering how common Copper Ore is. Thanks! –  Zibbobz Dec 9 '13 at 14:15

Durability is applied to Pickaxes and appears beneath the item as you show in your screenshot. As you mine, the durability of the pickaxe decreases. The pickaxe works until its durability runs out (when there is no longer any red in the bar). Once durability runs out the axe becomes very ineffective, but does not break and remains in your inventory for use.

Crafting a new pickaxe out of your used one repairs the pickaxe completely (a pickaxe has no lost durability if the bar does not appear beneath the icon). You can also repair a pickaxe with ores you mine. To do this, select a stack of ore and then right-click on the pickaxe (you do not need any sort of crafting table or anvil). Different level ores repair different amounts of durability and higher level axes take more repair.

In Short: Durability is a trait for pickaxes that decreases as you use the pickaxe. When durability runs out the item stays in your inventory but becomes extremely inefficient at mining. You can repair a pickaxe using ore.

Note: According to a post by the game developer, the plan is to have returning to your ship auotmatically repair your pickaxe, but this has not yet been implemented.

You can read the various Starbound Wikis' articles on durability here:

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