I don't really like mining, so I just do the most efficient thing, which I think is to dig a 2x2 staircase straight down to diamond level, then just dig out in one direction, a 2x1 tunnel until my pick is nearly halfway broken, then turn around and dig back to the staircase at least 4 blocks spaced from the other tunnel. If it is SMP and there are warps, I just dig in a straight line until the pick breaks.
I do a 2x1 shaft straight down with ladders to layer 13 then start branch mining in the southwest quadrant of the map. I dig my branches about 320 meters long, that's 64 torches with one every five meters. I usually find 3 to 6 diamonds per branch like that. Which is more than enough to keep me in diamond picks, shovels and swords.
5x5 mineshaft down to layer 12, set up a base, then start with a 5x2x21 (5 long, 2 high, and 21 long) tunnel, then make a 4x2x21 branch off to the left side, etc, etc, until I get down to 1x2x21, then I go back to the main tunnel (or trunk as I call it), rinse, and repeat. Otherwise, I spelunk.
But mostly I do my modified branch mining.
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Quote from WTFClock »
So let me get this straight
Give you wood Minecraft is now necrophiliac friendly
Quote from atiaxi »
The entire place is on fire, it should be baked by now!
I've found the most effective and least time consuming way to mine for diamonds, redstone, iron, gold, coal, and lapis is as follows:
-Choose your favorite method to get to bedrock - spiral stairs, 1x1 shaft, etc.
-Set up shop on the layer which first contains bedrock - ie, the floor sometimes has bedrock in it, but none sticking above.
-Dig a tunnel which looks like this in cross section:
      
     
    
   
  
That bottom row of blocks is the one containing bedrock pieces.
-Starting from the bottom row of the large tunnel, make a 1x2 tunnel into the "staircase" as deep as you want to go.
-I usually do 5 torches from the entrance - not super precise, but it works.
-from this tunnel, you can map where you will put your other branches. I plan like this, viewed facing the staircase:
Again, the bottom row of blocks is the one containing the bedrock pieces.
In maybe 6 hours of real time mining the holy hell out my map, I didn't hit any lava, but harvested 30-ish diamonds, 45 gold, 4 full stacks of iron, 12 full stacks of redstone, a handful of lapis, and more coal than I know what to do with. This pattern may miss some 1x1 veins of ores, but you really end up getting more ore with less effort. I'll try to post a screenshot of the trunk of my branch mine, it looks more complicated on here than it really is.