Block of the Week: Scaffolding

Full-Stack Builder

Woaaaah what’s happening?  Block of the Week is BACK!? I know, it’s a surprise to me too. After the triumphant blowout spectacular of my final article in the series – note block – I hung up my writing pantaloons and retired, safe in the knowledge that all the blocks in the game had been covered.

But it turns out that the developer team didn’t get the memo. Instead, they have continued making new blocks for Minecraft! So just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in to write more Block of the Weeks. Blocks of the week? Blocks ofs thes weeks? I have no idea how to pluralise that.

I wanted to bring the series back with a BANG, and this week that bang is the sound of a player hitting the ground after their friend helpfully mines out the bottom of the scaffolding tower they’re standing on. What? Read on, and all will become clear.

Scaffolding was added to Minecraft in version 1.14, which is affectionately known to its friends as the Village & Pillage Update. It was specifically designed to help when you’re building things – it’s extremely easy to place and extremely easy to destroy.

First, though, let’s cover how you make it. You’ll need bamboo! Specifically, six bamboo and a bit of string to lash it together. That’ll get you six blocks in one go. Once you’ve got some, right-click on the ground to place it down. Now here’s where the magic begins. Right-click on that bottom block again and you’ll place another scaffolding on top of it. Keep going and you’ll be able to quickly make a tower. Great, right?

It gets better. Walk into the block and you’ll find that it has no collision detection. Jump and you’ll find that you can climb it and descend it like a ladder. Best of all? Once you’re done, you can knock out the bottom block and the whole tower will come crashing down. Easy to place, easy to destroy – just like I promised.

There’s just one question – what do you do with your stacks of scaffolding once your magnificent construction is complete? The answer to this problem is the same as the answer to most problems in life. Burn it. Scaffolding is a fantastic fuel, smelting two items per block in Java Edition and a whopping six in Bedrock Edition.

Real-world scaffolding works much like Minecraft scaffolding does. You put it up for building purposes, and if you knock out the bottom layer then the whole thing comes crashing down. And no, you shouldn’t test this.

We’ve been using it for a very long time – sockets carved out of the walls of the famous Lascaux cave in France suggest that some sort of scaffolding system was used to paint the ceiling over 17,000 years ago. Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Nubians, and Chinese are also recorded as having used scaffolding for building work. Many wonders of the world, including the Great Wall of China, were built using bamboo scaffolding.

Originally scaffolding was custom-made on every project, but in the early 1900s it began to be standardised and today most scaffolding around the world looks the same. What differs is the material that it’s made out of – steel or aluminium tubes are most common in the Western world today, but bamboo is still very common elsewhere – because it’s cheap, lightweight, and very strong.

In the world of Minecraft, where metallurgy is still at a relatively basic level, we’ve stuck with bamboo for our scaffolding. After all, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Duncan Geere
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Duncan Geere
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