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Well, you can use straight grained maple, but you will never attain the stunning beauty of figured maple. So there's a trade off involved with that. Cabinet scrapers my be a better option than a plane, but just as with a plane, you have to sharpen them properly, and keep honing them because the ONLY way you will get a clean cut is by keeping them super sharp. It is the nature of figured wood because you are cutting with the nap, against the nap, and crossways to the nap no matter which direction you cut.
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