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Block of the Week: Shulker Box

An underappreciated storage choice

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been paying a bit more attention than usual to The End. Taking Inventory focused on the tasty chorus fruit, Around the Block starred the End highlands, and today we’re crowning things off with a storage option that we think deserves more attention. It’s the shulker box.

Shulker boxes were added to Minecraft in the Exploration Update in November 2016 – alongside Illagers, woodland mansions, and observers. They come in all the colours of the Minecraft rainbow (the standard 16, that is), though they were recoloured in the appropriately-named World of Colour Update in 2017 to make them even shinier.

Shulker boxes have one use, and that’s to hold things. They hold things very well – so well, in fact, that they won a silver medal in Duncan’s Minecraft Things That Can Hold Other Things Championship 2020 (the gold medal went to ender chests!). 

Why are they so great? Simple – they don’t drop their contents when broken. Unlike a regular chest, they hold tight to their contents even when picked up and put into your inventory. Plop it down again, open it up, and there’s all your stuff. Magic! No wait, the other thing. Science!

Otherwise, shulker boxes work just like regular chests. You can feed stuff in and pull stuff out with a hopper, and they can carry 27 stacks of items. That means *fetches calculator*, that if you have a shulker box in every inventory slot, every space of your hotbar, and your offhand slot *taps in numbers*, then you can hold 999 stacks of items... *taps in more numbers* storing 63936 items. That’s a lot of dirt blocks.

But wait! Let’s say you had an ender chest in your inventory, containing 27 shulker boxes of its own, then that would total... *calculator begins to smoke* a massive 1701 stacks! 108 864 items! Wait hang on... what if you filled up a train of llamas with inventories full of shulker boxes! *calculator beeps frantically*. That would mean 4050 stacks, containing up to... oh. My calculator exploded. Guess we’ll never know.

Oh, and just like a genie won’t grant a wish for more wishes, a shulker box can’t hold shulker boxes. Sorry. That would basically break the universe.

So where do you get one of these magical boxes? Weeeeell here’s the bad news. You’ll need to hunt down a stronghold, fill up the portal frame with eyes of ender, portal to the End, defeat the Ender dragon, explore the outer islands until you find an End city, and then not die to the shulkers that live there until you can kill enough to grab a couple of shulker shells. Done all that? Then the rest is easy – just put a chest in the middle of a crafting grid, the shulker shells above and below it, and voila: a shulker box is yours!

Want to make it your own? No problem! Combine it in a crafting grid with any colour of dye to make it that colour. The perfect option for stylish players who can’t bear to mess up their perfect home decor colour scheme with an old-fashioned brown chest. You can un-dye it again with a cauldron, and also name it in an anvil, if you want to *really* organise your storage room.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a lot of dirt to mine. These shulker boxes won’t fill themselves up!

Duncan Geere
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Duncan Geere

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