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The 6 Best Types of Wood for Making a Staff

In this article, I’ll explain why these are suitable types of wood to make a staff and where you can find each kind of wood in the US. Then, I’ll answer some common questions about staff-making to help you get started. 

The best type of wood for making a staff is hickory wood since it is durable, flexible hardwood. However, other hardwoods such as ash, maple, chestnut, oak, and douglas fir are also fantastic options for a crafting staff. 

1. Hickory

Location: Eastern USA

Hickory is one of the most common woods used for making a staff. Hickory wood is a durable hardwood, so you do not have to worry about breaking it with everyday use. 

However, it can also be challenging to work with since it is flexible and rigid. You’ll need patience and some heavy-duty woodworking equipment to carve and cut this stuff!

However, it is also lightweight and slightly flexible, so it is easy for you to carry around. 

You are most likely to find hickory wood in the eastern part of the United States. 

2. Ash

Two ash trees on a hill

Location: Northeastern USA 

Ash works well for making a staff because it is light but strong. Traditionally, ash was the most popular wood for making bows and military equipment since it is so flexible yet resists breaking even under tons of pressure. 

Ash is incredibly shock-resistant. So, it’ll withstand a steep hike while bearing the weight of a heavy person, and it will continue to work on future walks and activities.

Ash is also popular for staff making because it has a lovely appearance. The unfinished bark has a textured look which is appealing to many people. 

Ask wood is best if you are in the northeast of the United States, where it is most prevalent. 

3. Maple

Maple tree turning yellow in autumn

Location: Eastern USA 

Maple is one of the most common types of wood used for staves since it is hard enough to make furniture yet flexible enough to make a bow. So, it will hold up heavy objects and people without breaking. 

Maple wood is a solid and stiff hardwood. So, it can be hard to construct something with it, but it will hold up well.

There are two types of maple trees that you can find in different areas of the United States, but wood from both works well for making a staff. 

  • Sugar Maple: The Sugar Maple is most commonly used to make maple syrup from the tree’s sap, but it also has strong wood used for building things like a staff. The Sugar Maple is most common in the east and New England. It is a tree that grows in every state east of the Mississippi River, except Florida, so you should have no trouble finding it if you are in the east.
  • Red Maple: Red Maple trees have color year-round, even if they are just tiny buds in the winter. You will find Red Maple trees in the eastern part of the United States, just like the Sugar Maple. However, it also grows in midwestern states like Texas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma

4. Chestnut

Chestnut Tree

Location: Eastern USA 

Even though it is not as popular as ash and hickory, which grow in the same region, chestnut works well for making a staff.

Chestnut is a hardwood tree with a dull, earthy brown color that lends itself well to furniture making and staff making. It’s durable and weather-resistant, so it’ll withstand muddy, wet hikes and walks without an issue. 

Another benefit of chestnut is that the bark is easy to strip. So, making a staff with chestnut wood is not too difficult, and it is easy to get a beautiful finish for your piece.

You will find chestnut wood in the eastern half of the United States.

5. Oak

Oak tree in a field

Location: Northern and Southern USA 

Oak is another common wood used for staff making. Oak is very durable, so it is the most popular wood for woodworking. The wood has an appealing appearance and is rot-resistant, so you do not have to worry about having your staff out in wet conditions.

The difference between oak compared to hickory and ash is that oak is not quite as light, which is something you may not want in a staff. However, if you are willing to give up having a lighter staff, oak wood will more than compensate for its heft with its durability. 

Oak is also great for staff making since it grows in many areas of the United States. Oak trees run through the north and south, so you can likely find them near you if it is the wood you want to use for your staff. 

In general, Oak trees in the north are in Minnesota, Maine, and between. In the south, they are between Texas and Georgia. However, you may find them outside this range, although they may not be as prevalent.

6. Douglas Fir

Douglas fir tree branch

Location: Western USA 

Finally, you can use Douglas Fir for making a staff. Douglas Fir wood has been used to build throughout history since it is a reliable hardwood. It is a typical material in making railroads, telephone poles, and medical stretchers, so you know it will be strong enough for your staff.

Douglas Fir wood is your best option for making a staff if you are in the western part of the United States. Firs are most common in California and the Rocky Mountains, but they grow throughout the western USA. 

The other trees and woods in this article are hard to find in the region, so you should go with a fir for your staff if you live out West. 

What Is the Strongest Wood for a Staff?

Wooden staff on a white background

The strongest wood for a staff is hickory. Hickory is a hardwood, which means it does not break easily. Even though it is harder to work with, any carvings or designs you add to your walking stick will stay in place. 

Is Cedar a Good Wood for a Walking Stick?

Cedar is a good wood for a walking stick, but it won’t be as durable or reliable as hardwood. Cedar is not one of the strongest woods for making a walking stick, but it is easy to work with and resists weather. 

If you choose to use cedar, you need to ensure that your cedar sticks are not cracking on the ends.

To check if they are cracking, leave them out for a few weeks to let them dry. If, after this time, you do not see any issues at the ends, you will be able to use the cedar to make a walking stick. 

A lady with a walking stick on a trail in the wilderness

Cedar is not the most substantial wood, but you can protect your cedar walking stick with some oil when you are done crafting. Applying oil or antler finishing coat on the outside will help protect the cedar as you use it for walking. 

Even though it is softwood and you may encounter cracking, making a walking stick from cedar is possible. If you want to learn how, you might want to watch this Youtube video from BushcraftonFire on Youtube:

What Is the Difference Between a Bo Staff and a Quarterstaff?

Bo and quarterstaffs are both sticks that were initially used as weapons but can also be used as walking sticks today. 

The difference between a bo staff and a quarterstaff is that bo staffs are shorter and have no handle. Quarterstaffs are longer than bo staffs and include handles. 

The bo staff originated in Japan and is usually 5.9 ft (1.8 m) long. Bo staffs are standard in martial arts, and you wield them with two hands. Both sides of the staff are symmetric. You can spin or strike it downwards or use it in a forward motion like a spear.

On the other hand, quarterstaffs range in length but are usually between 6 and 9 feet (1.8 and 2.7 m), depending on how tall the user is. 

Unlike bo staffs, a quarterstaff has a handle, but the fighting motions for both types are similar. You can also use a quarterstaff as a spear or defense for the body by moving it in different ways.

Here are a few good Youtube videos that explain what quarterstaffs and bo staffs are if you still want to learn more.

First, Modern Ninja explains what a Bo Staff is and how they have been used throughout history: 

Second, Lindybeige explains what the quarterstaff is and its many variations:

For more, check out 16 Best Types of Wood for Making a Bow | A Practical Guide.