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The best staffs are made from whole saplings, not from branches or sections of a tree. Suitable woods are: hazel, ash, oak and hawthorn. It is easy to find straight hazel and ash; both are light and springy. But neither are as strong as oak (the wood used by Robin in the ballad) or thorn and will not last as long. The surface of ash has a tendency to flake and split. Thorn has proved itself the toughest and most durable material. The sapling should be at least 2.5 inches in diameter at the narrowest point. Its length should be your own height to the crown of your head plus about 3 inches.