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In a stroke of bad luck (or misplaced good luck), I finally ended up with silk touch, but on a shovel.

According to this article: Which blocks require the Silk Touch enchantment, or benefit from it?, there's lots of things you can do with a silk touch pickaxe, including getting grass and mycellium, which silk touch shovels should obviously be able to do to.

Under normal circumstances though, breaking an ore with a shovel (or anything other than a pickaxe) will yield nothing. Are silk touch enchanted tools a special exception to this - or can I likewise expect not to be able to use my enchanted shovel for any of that good stuff?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

No, you still need a pickaxe for ores.

From the wiki entry on silk touch (emphasis mine):

Allows the collection of normally unobtainable blocks such as Ores , Grass , Mycelium and Huge Mushrooms . A pickaxe must be used for stone-based blocks (ores), while any tool can harvest grass, mycelium, huge mushrooms...

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Thanks, I skimmed the various related wiki entries a few times but that line always escaped me. –  Alain Apr 10 '12 at 13:36
    
Also note that lower tiers, such as a Stone Silk Touch Pickaxe can only pick up ores that a regular Stone Pickaxe can; the rest of the ores are destroyed when mined. –  IQAndreas May 26 at 23:08
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