Taking Inventory: Pickaxe

Our new series about Minecraft items!

Hello, and welcome to our newest series on Minecraft.net! It’s called Taking Inventory, and every week, we’ll be choosing an item, examining what it does in the game, and taking a look at its history in the so-called “real world”.

If that format sounds familiar, it’s because this is basically the sequel to our much-loved Block of the Week series. We spent all Summer trying to think of what series could follow Block of the Week (Pixel of the Week? Block of this generation?) before deciding we should give items the same treatment! After all, if it ain’t low on durability, then why fix it?

We’re kicking off with the most iconic item in Minecraft - the pickaxe! Pickaxes, or picks, are probably the tool that people use the most in Minecraft. You’ll need one to mine stone and ores, as well as to break objects like furnaces, anvils and iron bars. It’s often the first tool that people make in the game, out of two sticks and three bits of wood. Don’t pretend the recipe isn’t burnt into your brain.

Once you’ve made your wooden pickaxe, you can mine stone with it and make a stone pickaxe. The stone pick lets you mine iron ore, which can be smelted into iron ingots to make an iron pick, which in turn lets you mine diamonds and make a diamond pick. As you go up the tiers, a pick will last longer and mine faster.

But Minecraft pros will know that there’s another kind of pick that I haven’t yet mentioned - the sparky, blingtastic, golden pickaxe. Golden picks mine faster than any other tool, but gold is soft so they aren’t very durable. They’re brilliant if you want to break through about half a stack of stone in a hurry, but otherwise they’re mostly for showing off your vast wealth and high social standing to others on your server.

Picks were added to Minecraft in version 0.31 on 31 December 2009, and refined over the course of the following month into the tool that they are now. They haven’t changed much since - with only minor tweaks to durability and mining speed over the years. A pickaxe can be used as a weapon, which is marginally better than attacking with your bare hands but uses up durability twice as fast as if you were mining. You can also use them as smelting fuel if you really want to - they’ll smelt one item per pick.

Picks have been used in agriculture, mining and warfare all the way back to prehistoric times. The earliest examples were made out of deer antlers, cut down to the shaft, sharpened to a point, and used for mining flint. Over the years, they’ve evolved into other tools - like ploughs and mattocks, and in medieval times picks were commonly used as a weapon, so don’t feel bad about flailing at a zombie ambusher with your pick.

The name “pickaxe” comes from the Middle-English word picas which itself derives from the Latin picus, meaning “woodpecker”. Today, a pickaxe usually has two heads - one that goes to a sharp point for breaking things, and one that goes to a flat edge for prying things apart or cutting through roots.

Want one for yourself? Head on over to our merch shop and PICK one up. AHAHAHAHAHA ouch no please stop hitting me with the pick ouch sorry ouch.

Written by
Duncan Geere
Published
10/05/2018

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