How can I easily get a lot of Iron?
While iron isn't very rare, it is needed for a lot, especially if you want to build a structure out of it, build long railways or something like that.
What should you do to find/get a lot of iron with non-excessive effort (an inital effort for a good long-term solution is good though)?
Possible Duplicate: What's the most efficient Minecraft mining strategy
@Ronan Forman: I use that, but I want a lot of iron and I don't think that is effective enough
@Ronan Not really; this is specific about iron, where more general approaches such as branch mining are unnecessary.
Mine in the southwest quadrant (positive x and z), twice as much ore there (explanation)Fixed as of Beta 1.6
- Become familiar with depths, see this guide. Iron lives under the sea level.
- Don't branch mine: don't listen to that guide, or this answer. Since you're looking for iron, I suggest trying caves.
The "mathematical analysis" is seriously flawed, because you're not looking to get every single ore in the block. Instead, you want to get as much ore as possible per second. This means that you need to see as many "fresh blocks" as possible per second. Let's look at one statement made in the analysis:
Not bad. With every 2 blocks destroyed (or 8 seen), we get 3.7% iron. Halve that to get the value of one block, which is 1.83% iron per block. That means for every 54 blocks of stone we mine, we'll get 1 iron ore.
Except, whenever you add a turn to your mineshaft, your digging causes you to see the other faces of the same two blocks you just saw. So don't add turns - which is exactly what a branch mine does every 4 blocks. Furthermore, when you do find ore in your branch mine, you'll dig towards your other shaft, and this will let you see some blocks that... you already saw when you dug that other branch. If you're going to shaft mine, make it one long shaft at level 14.
So what about caves? How many "fresh blocks" do you see per second in a cave? Well... a lot. To get an estimate, I started a fresh game on normal, punched a couple trees, a couple stone picks, bunch of sticks, a sword. Found a decent cave system. Coal pretty quick, sticks became a bunch of torches, I hear groaning. Strategy? Run like a boss, place torches, look at ceilings, floors, nooks. Don't stand still. Found iron? Great: spot check for monsters, then mine it. It does spawn diagonally. Check anyway. Hit dead end? Go back, seal the cave shaft up with a horizontal line of cobble, so you don't go in again. I got 54 iron in 10 minutes of caving. And a lapis block. The guide says (I wouldn't trust the math) that I'll get that much in 21 minutes using branch mines. Caves are better. Also, cave mining is much more fun.
Go a ways SW of spawn(fixed as of Beta 1.6), find a cave system, go deeper than sea level. Run through it placing torches.
Branch mining is a generic method for hunting the more precious ores. Yes, it's overkill when looking for iron or coal; no, I don't think exploring caves (while fun!) is an efficient method for finding diamond. :)
But the question wasn't about diamond. As for diamond, as I said, a long mineshaft beats branches, which are a waste of surface area.
I know the question isn't about diamonds. If you want to comment on the branch mining method I recommend you do so on the relevant answer, however.
+1 "Also, cave mining is much more fun." This is my own experience. Go on a nice long walk, explore caves, come back ferrously rich.