Dwarf Fortress: How to Dig Down

Digging down is an essential process in Dwarf Fortress for finding water, exploring caverns, or simply expanding your base.

However, Dwarf Fortress is far from a simple game and many players are confused about how to dig down.

In this guide, I will explain step-by-step how to dig down in Dwarf Fortress.

How to Dig Down in Dwarf Fortress

Start at your base and select the area where you want to start digging down. Here’s the steps you’ll need to follow.

  1. Select the pickaxe from the bottom menu and build a staircase leading down.
  2. Go one floor down and build a small room near the staircase. This room will protect your base with a door in case any monsters spawn in the caverns.
  3. Keep building staircases all the way down until you reach the elevation level of your choice
Select the pickaxe, then the staircase to build stairs in Dwarf Fortress.

As for each floor, you can leave the stairs on a 1×1 tile. There’s no reason to expand further unless you want to explore that specific floor or make it look fancier.

Similarly to stairs, you can also choose to dig channels, which serve as holes that go all the way down. These are primarily used to transfer water or build stuff over them such as wells.

Resources Found by Digging in Dwarf Fortress

If you’re reading this guide, you already have a reason to dig down. However, there are more than one reasons to do that.

Just keep in mind that enemies can be lurking underground in the shadows or in caverns. When digging down and exploring, make sure to have some defensive units with you in case you get attacked.

Here are some of the best resources you can find by digging down.


Water is a key resource in Dwarf Fortress and contrary to other games, it’s not easy to find. Even if you’ve spawned with a river near your base, that river will freeze during the winter. Thus, it’s essential to find, or create, an underground water source.

As for how to find water in the game, your best bet is by digging down until you find a large cavern. These almost always have large sources of water.

Wood & Mud

You can find an abundance of these key building resources in underground caverns. Especially mud will be needed later in the game for some core recipes.

As for wood, I’m sure you’re already using it.


One of the most important resources for progression is ores. For instance, the two most basic starter ores include iron and coal.

Of course, there’s more to be found while digging down, but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises. These are just some of the main ones!


To sum up, now that you know how to dig down in Dwarf Fortress, you have so many options ahead of you.

You can start exploring caverns, buildings wells, creating farms, or expanding your base. And those are just some of the many available options.

What’s your next step now that you can dig down? How far down are you planning to go? Let us know in the comments below.


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