The stake can attach to any side of a block, including half slabs (but only on the half the half-slab occupies) and stairs and is used with string as a measuring device.
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By placing one stake down, then another some distance away, you can right click one of them with string. If you have enough string, it will make a connection and remove string from your inventory equal to the amount of blocks between the two stakes.
Keep in mind
You can only use string to make a connection between two stakes.
Does not deal bonus damage to bats.