Quote from MidnightCthulhu
I like cave mining too, but I usually have to strip mine for ages when I'm looking for one :S
Quote from Tsuan208
Strip Mining : Tedious and boring. But it is extremely safe. I recommend this if you have suckish fighting skills or no armor.
IMO, I prefer Strip Mining. I like to conserve my armor durability for the PvP matches since I mostly play on Multiplayer servers.
Quote from Fiskav
Strip mining. Mindless fun.
Quote from AnneOnimous
I'm a stripper.
Quote from Metamorphic_Fish
If I'm looking for diamonds, I strip mine.
Quote from BlueCoin
Quote from Space_1301
I only strip mine when I need stone, but I still mine around level 12 to increase my chance of finding diamonds
Quote from RockitRaptor
I mostly strip mine, and do some cave mining as well.
Quote from BosnianMC
Quote from kcampo
But if it's a diamond I'm looking for, than strip mining exceeds the rest.
Quote from GenAndSparkles
It's a bit like strip mining
It hands down beats strip or branch mining in terms of efficiency,
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
-- Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
What, exactly, do you guys all mean when you say "strip mine"? Because I don't think you're using it right. When I hear "strip mine," I think of this:
That is an actual, real-life "strip mine." The term refers, not to mining in "strips" (that's your plain-old, everyday "branch" mine -- you dig one main tunnel, or "strip" if you insist [but I wouldn't, because that road only leads to just this sort of confusion], with more tunnels occasionally "branching off" to the sides at regular intervals), but rather, it refers to "stripping" everything away, leaving nothing behind except for a giant hole in the ground. In Minecraft, this is commonly known as a "quarry" (another type of open-pit mine, in real life), and it is a horribly inefficient method of acquiring resources other than cobblestone.
The best method to find resources is the one that exposes the largest number of blocks in the least amount of time (or, arguably, with the least amount of wear on your tools. But since using the tools takes time as well, it pretty much boils down to the same thing.) Ore blocks, though randomly distributed, make up a certain set percentage of all stone at the appropriate depths. So the more blocks you are able to look at, the more resources you will find among them. Usually, this means caving is the way to go, if all you're looking for is coal and iron, or even gold if you find a deep one. There are hundreds upon hundreds of already-exposed blocks in the cave walls, so you don't even have to dig anything but the goodies!
But it's hard to find caves that go deep enough to reach diamond level, and when you do, they're usually partially or completely filled with lava. The best way to find diamonds, then, (or redstone, which appears at the same depths as diamond, only much more frequently), is to branch mine with a 1x2 tunnel (three new blocks exposed for each one broken; four, if you count the one behind it, but that one you were going to break next, anyway, so it doesn't really count) at y=11 (feet level, eyes=12.6) so that the ground you are walking on is level with the tops of the lava lakes. There will be no pits for you to fall into or have to navigate across or around, because all airspace below this level is replaced with lava. When you come across a lava lake, you can just pour out your water bucket next to it, scoop it back up, and then walk safely across your nice, new obsidian floor. And you will have very little lava come pouring into your tunnel from above or to the side, because the majority of it is below you. All you have to worry about in that regard are a few stray source blocks here and there, and the occasional higher-level pool.
I haven't had to go mining in quite a while, but the last time I did, I used Phoenix's X-Mining technique. It's a lot like branch mining, only it cuts down on the time you have to spend backtracking through the tunnels you've already dug out.