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Minecraft Bridges


I’ll shamelessly admit my penchant for architecture. Don’t tell my father; as a bridge engineer who hates to deal with architects, I feel like I would be bringing shame to my family or something like that. It almost goes without saying that, as a child, I was inundated with a slew of popsicle and toothpick bridge projects. That’s not to say that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy every last one of them. I also can add that I still keep engineering in mind every time I create a bridge in Minecraft. In my time playing on the Pure Better In Game Adult Minecraft Server, I’ve built a slew of bridges ranging from small 5 blocks bridges crossing creeks to monster 1000 block long suspension bridges spanning swathes of ocean. I will with, admitted conceit, say that I’ve gotten pretty darn good at crafting the suckers over my years of Minecraft. I’d love to share with you some of the tricks I’ve picked up on how to cross above your canyons, link over your lakes, or even overpass your oceans.
Minecraft Bridges

First thing is first when you’re making any bridge in Minecraft. Assess the landscape, determine the type of blocks you’re going to use and choose what kind of bridge you should use to cross the specific area. I would recommend as a first step building a straight one wide dirt line crossing where you want the deck of your bridge to be. Not only will this help you determine the length of the bridge, but also the potential difference in height between the sides of your bridge. This little dirt runner is obviously a must if you’re working in survival, but I would even recommend using it in creative to help out as a reference. Bellow are a few different types of bridges I've used in different circumstances and a few tips on how to construct them. This is by no means an all-inclusive list of bridge types, but instead is a good starting point for determining what type of bridge best suits your situation.

Minecraft Stone Arch Bridge

This is a good type of bridge for getting over small and medium-sized gaps with land that is at the same height on both sides. There are a few good basics to follow when making a bridge like this, and while many of them may seem pretty obvious, I still feel they are worth noting. As the size of the gap increases, make your bridge wider. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your bridge deck is at least one wide for every ten blocks in length. So for example, if you’re crossing a fifty block gap, make sure that your bridge deck is at least five wide to make it still look plausible. Start by building the deck, and practice making the arch of the deck with dirt before you lay down any actual materials if you’re playing in survival. Always bulk up the underside of your bridge if it’s spanning any distance over ten, bridges look far too spindly without the addition of some form of spine under the deck. Finish off by putting in railings that match the curve of your deck.

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Diagonal Minecraft Bridge

Sometimes the best bridge for your purpose is a diagonal one. While it may seem incredibly daunting to make a bridge that’s diagonal if you are making a basic Minecraft arch bridge it’s actually not as hard as you would think. If you follow all the same principles of the Stone Arch Bridge and start both sides at the same height, start steep on the sides and gradually level off, and bulk up the bottom of the bridge with a spine, you’ll end up with some of the coolest looking bridges in Minecraft. Like everything in Minecraft, these bridges can be scaled to just about any size, but I feel like they look best covering small or medium-small gaps.

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Minecraft Ramp Bridge

Sometimes you have a gap that you’d like to span with an arch that isn’t the same level on each side. While I’m not going to claim to know the technical term for this type of bridge, it’s very useful in many situations, but can prove tricky when it comes time to getting the undercarriage to look just right. The best way to start on bridges like this involves a little foresight and planning starting with measuring the distance to be covered. Always start out on the lower side when you start making the deck. Start your bridge steep and slowly level it out until you’re at the desired height that matches the far side and then level it out and go straight from there. These bridges are best on smaller gaps unless you’re up for doing some math. If you’re up for some math, it’s not too difficult to determine how gradually to slope a bridge based on the height difference on each side and the length of the bridge. Build railings to match and bulk up the bottom of the deck near the center to make it look more realistic.

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Small Minecraft Bridge

Sometimes you need to skip some puddles. I’m a frequent builder of tiny bridges since I can’t help but add in all sorts of little streams and rivers into the landscape. There isn’t a whole lot of ways to diversify bridges this small but I recommend making them out of a material that has stairs and slabs to help make small bridges more unique. Placing stairs upside down and then placing slabs next to them is a great way to make railings. These bridges, since they are short, should usually have a flat deck and are always a fun challenge when it comes to making them look unique. Accessorizing is key; using accent materials and even levers, buttons, or posts can make a world of difference in your finished product

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Minecraft Truss Bridge

One of my all-time favorite types of bridges in real life and one of the more challenging bridges to build in Minecraft are truss bridges. Another bridge that should have a straight deck (or very slightly curved if it's large), the concept of a truss bridge boils down to utilizing the strength of triangles in real life. Unless you’re scaling up the size most of the truss bridges I’ve made only look good on medium size gaps, no larger than 100. Starting is easy; simply build a flat deck crossing the gap. Reinforce it lightly along the bottom with some extra slabs if it’s a small bridge or use some stairs and full-size blocks to round off the bottom a bit if it’s a large bridge. Using stairs or slabs on a smaller bridge or full-size blocks on a larger bridge start from the center of the bridge build the supports along the sides. On truss bridges, the supports on the side usually look best when they are near the same height as the width of the deck.

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Minecraft Rope Bridge

These bridges usually look best when they’re strung about in a jungle. Again, like many of the other style bridges are actually not as difficult to make as they can sometimes look. The basic principle of constructing the deck is pretty much the same as making a regular stone arch bridge except in inverted. Start with your deck at even levels on both sides and start out with a steep slope going down which gradually levels off. These guys are best for medium size gaps. The effect is hard to pull off on small scales and would dip too low for most large gaps. After you make your deck, it’s as simple as making two matching strips of material along each side that parallel the slope of the deck and running railings or blocks down from them to attach them to the deck. These are really fun looking bridges and are actually one of the easiest to make once you know how to make them.

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Minecraft Suspension Bridge

When you’ve got a big ass gap to span there is one great solution that’s always a real crowd pleaser, the Minecraft suspension bridge. You can make good looking suspension bridges over medium gaps, but they really look best in large or even massive scale depending on how patient you are and how big the gap your crossing is. If you’re up for the challenge, I’ll give you a few tips on how to make your next Minecraft suspension bridge a real looker. Start as you would with most Minecraft bridges, by building the deck. Suspension bridges look best with a deck that gradually slopes on both sides. It’s also easiest to make Minecraft suspension bridges in areas where both sides of the gap are at close or identical heights. You will need at least one tower in your bridge. As a good rule of thumb, if you’re making a single tower bridge, the height of the tower above the deck should be half that of the bridges overall span. For example, if you’re making a 100 block long suspension bridge, the tower should reach 50 blocks above the deck. There are two main styles of Minecraft suspension bridges to choose from. You can either stretch your cables directly from the tower, or you can stretch cables out to the ends of the bridge and then have the supporting cables come straight down from the main cable. The second method is quite difficult to achieve properly, but the best advice I can give you is to take some time and if you need utilize some math to determine how steep the curves should be on your main cables, and make sure to incorporate hefty looking anchor on each side of bridge for the main cables to attach to.

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Minecraft Drawbridge

Minecraft drawbridges are one of my personal favorites to make. I start these bridges out like all the rest of my bridges, by building a deck. Drawbridges look best when they cross relatively small gaps. The deck should also be straight, or the bridge will tend to look a little funky. You will need to make the tower for the drawbridge at least the height of the bridge's length. When you construct the cables that connect the bridge to the tower, I’ve always been a fan of building what looks like a counterweight system. This is easily achieved by making what looks like channels along the sides of the tower with something that looks like a weight. In the past, I’ve used non-matching fences along with pressure plates to make what looks like a full deck that’s not attached in the center.

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So… bridges! Hopefully, this has at least given you a few ideas on your next Minecraft bridge project. This is by no means an all-inclusive listing of bridge types and all of my recommendations are just that, recommendations. In fact some of the best bridges I’ve made break some of the basic guidelines I’ve listed above. In summation I would say the most important factors in making a good Minecraft bridge involve knowing the space you’re working with, taking time to plan out your bridge (even if it involves the ever-dreaded math), building templates with dirt, and not being afraid to destroy large amounts of work if you don’t like how things are turning out. You know what they say when you’re upset about a gap you need to cross, build a bridge and get over it (Sorry, just know it hurt me as much to write that as it did for you to read it)!

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Here are a couple good spots to look for additional ideas:
http://pghbridges.com/basics.htm
https://en.wikipedia...of_bridge_types


Check back for the February creative bridge-building competition taking place on Saturday, February 25th at 2:00PM EST. More information will be coming out soon.

Next article will ba an in-depth guide on how to make a specific type of bridge. Let me know what type of bridge you’d like to see a guide on:


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