I know you should never dig straight down but there are rare occasions where I don't really want to make a slow mine downwards. Sometimes I just want to dig down, find diamonds and come back up with the satisfying thought that I just found a vein of diamonds but half the time I end up falling into lava or a ravine to my death.

So, are there any tips to dig straight down so I can start branch mining?

I would also like the method to be efficient and less risky than digging a 1x1 hole down to level 12.

6 Answers 6


If you really need to dig down as fast as possible while still being safe from lava dives you can dig a 1x2 hole down.

This is exactly as easy as a 1x1 hole, except for the positioning in the beginning. If you stand squarely between two blocks, mining one won't make you fall until you mine the other, allowing you to see what's below. The picture below shows a good postion, the mouse is also correctly placed so that you don't have to move it to mine both stones.


If you position your pickaxe right on the edge of the two blocks correctly, you'll mine one block after the other and slowly descend into the depths. After mining a block it looks like in the picture below.

one block mined

If you see a pit or lava instead of another block on the side you just mined, you can throw in gravel or sand to fill it up, or try digging around the hazard.

When you end up with lava below it'll look like this: suddenly lava!

To do this safely you'll need to make sure you can stop mining at any second, so no efficiency V diamond pickaxe nor doing this in netherrack with anything better then stone.

Small note: don't mind the weird textured kinds of stone and blocks in the pictures, they are from a couple (different) mods.

  • 3
    I also like to bring > 70 sand cubes so that I can get quickly get back out by stacking them under me to raise up. Use sand because it is easier to dig down into again until you make a ladder or something you can climb.
    – Guy Coder
    Aug 26, 2013 at 12:49
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    Ok, I was playing too much minecraft, forgot to get pictures, will do tomorrow. I'll write it down to do so. Sorry.
    – Arperum
    Aug 26, 2013 at 23:11
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    Pictures added for those who wanted them! (also for those who didn't want them)
    – Arperum
    Aug 27, 2013 at 18:49
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    @Arperum I guess strictly speaking you won't die from lava, just maybe falling damage. I used to do exactly what you describe here but with ladders, in case the floor suddenly drops. You only really need to place the ladder if it's a block that drops, i.e. sand/gravel. Otherwise your plan works.
    – Sadly Not
    Aug 27, 2013 at 23:24
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    @SadlyNot I never had the floor collapse under me though, and I used this trick countless times. So it's rather rare that blocks haven't dropped yet and are hanging above a pit deep enough to kill you
    – Arperum
    Aug 28, 2013 at 7:15

Place water at the top of your to be 1×1 hole, place a torch each time you wish to breath, and use Aqua Affinity on your helmet so you'll be able to dig faster.

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    No longer works in 1.13 (air no lomnger recharges instantly)
    – pppery
    Aug 12, 2018 at 21:47

Stand on a ladder, dig down until you can't hit any more blocks, drop down, and then remove your ladder so that you can place it again.

This will be safer than standing on the block you're mining, but dangerous in that you could lose all your blocks down a ravine or in lava. You may also get stranded if you don't bring enough ladders to get out and run out of pickaxes, so keep that in mind.

  • This method would be pretty slow as you would be standing on a ladder.
    – LTPro
    Aug 26, 2013 at 23:41
  • @LTPro, depends on how quickly you can build ladders. You only have to build one every 4 blocks or so.
    – zzzzBov
    Aug 27, 2013 at 0:01
  • I mean it would be slower to mine.
    – LTPro
    Aug 27, 2013 at 0:05
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    @LTPro i dont think he means be on the ladder holding shift, i think he means literally Stand on the top of the ladder pressed up against the wall on that 1px thick ledge
    – user48195
    Aug 27, 2013 at 15:53
  • Ahh, I see. That is a pretty good idea actually but probably still a bit slow.
    – LTPro
    Aug 28, 2013 at 7:20

Or you can make a 2x2 staircase down if you plan on using it later.

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    Ladders/Vines would accomplish the movement up/down as well in this case.
    – Robotnik
    Aug 26, 2013 at 13:25

Fire resistance potion. And Feather falling for caverns.

However I am guessing you want an early game method.

My favorite is to simply use stone picks, with nothing else in my inventory. This is actually very fast, and the risk is minimal - you don't lose much. And it's not hard to clear the lava with sand, then ride back down on a wave of water (place the water, wait a second, grab it, jump in).

But if you wish to avoid death you can save yourself in some situations with a water bucket. Simply place the water against the wall the moment you hit lava, with some practice you will be able to swim up out of the lava using the water (which also protects you from damage). Then simply mine out the block to the side of the hole and get out of the water. This requires a lot of luck, but it's a good fail safe.


Since Minecraft is 3D, you should never dig straight down. It's the #1 rule. It is unlike Terraria, which is 2D, where you can see what is below you, but that's a completely different game. If you have to, I would recommend filling your hole with water and mining air pockets as necessary.

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