Block of the Week: Planks

Lumbering along!

Wait, you’re telling me that we’ve been writing a Block of the Week column for four years now and we still haven’t covered planks? Unbelievable! They’re literally one of the first things you make in the game! Who makes the decisions around here? It’s me? Oh... 

W-Welcome everyone to the Block of the Week for planks! Which is being published exactly when I planned to publish it! Honest!

Planks have been a part of Minecraft since 15 May 2009. That’s when pre-Classic version rd-160052 was released, which also happens to be the first release that bore the title “Minecraft” (before that it was “Minecraft: Order of the Stone”, and before that it was just called “Cave Game”).

There are six different kinds of wooden planks in the game which are flammable, and two fungal planks, which are not. The burnable ones are oak, spruce, birch, jungle, acacia, and dark oak, which can be told apart by their various shades of brown but otherwise behave identically. Recently, in the Nether Update, we also added crimson and warped planks, made out of the giant fungi that live in crimson and warped forests. So now you can have purple and green planks too!

If you want some, you’ll need a block of wood or hyphae, stripped or otherwise. Plonk it into a crafting grid and it’ll yield four planks of the same variety. You can also find planks of various sorts all over the Overworld, as part of naturally-generated structures like mineshafts, villages, and shipwrecks. Gather with an axe for mAXEimum efficiency. I know, I'm hilarious!

Planks are pretty fundamental to all of Minecraft. You’ll need them to make a crafting table and the most basic set of tools, which can then be upgraded to better materials. But even after that, you’ll keep making planks – for sticks, doors, fences, shields, boats, trapdoors, pistons, buttons, beds, and much, much more. You can also use flammable planks as fuel in a furnace. Planks will be with you on your first day in Minecraft and your last. Your friend to the very end.

In the real world, planks are also made from wood and they’re also important in construction. They’re used to construct ships, houses, bridges, and much more. They’re also turned into shelves, tables, desks, and so on by carpenters. Take a look around you and count how many planks you can see in your home right now. Try and beat my total of 54!

Aside from construction, planks are used in cooking – particularly in Finland, where fish are often nailed to a plank with wooden pegs and cooked over an open fire in a dish called “loimulohi”. The idea is that the oils and moisture in the wood infuses the fish with extra flavour.

But the most notorious real-world plank use is the supposed habit of pirates and mutineers of the 18th and 19th centuries to tie up their captives and force them to “walk the plank”. Contrary to popular belief, there are only a handful of documented instances of this actually happening – it seems to have been more of a threat than a common occurrence. Nonetheless, it appears widely in pirate-related literature and folklore like Treasure Island and Peter Pan.

I don’t recommend walking the plank. Much better to make a nice shelf, or crafting table out of one instead, yeah?

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere