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I mainly use my trusty scroll saw to cut wood. Although the cuts themselves are nice and clean, the sawn edge is kind of uneven and wavy. I try to even that edge out by sanding it by hand for like 30min. But that is kind of tedious and not really effective.

So I was wondering if an electric planer would do a better job at making those edges straight?

Here is an example:

enter image description here

  • Hi welcome to SE. Can you be more specific about what cuts you're doing that you want to smooth? I'm struggling to imagine how you'd use an electric planer on scroll-saw work but maybe I'm visualising the wrong thing. If you're just using the scroll saw for basic cuts, so you need to flatten/smooth straight edges and ends, then a hand plane would generally be preferable. – Graphus Jun 16 '19 at 12:11
  • Thanks for answering. I added an image that hopefully illustrates the problem. And I mentioned the electric planer specifically because one of those already exists in the family. If a hand plane is preferrable then I would need to buy one. – jsf Jun 16 '19 at 13:39
  • Is that a typical example? It shouldn't take 30 minutes to sand it smooth by hand. Are you using a sanding block and starting with coarse paper, like 60 or 80 grit? – Mark Jun 16 '19 at 15:18
  • Maybe the 30min was a bit exaggerated. But it takes some time and I feel this is not very efficient. So I wanted to see if there is a more efficient way of doing this. I use 80 grit. – jsf Jun 16 '19 at 15:27
  • Even if the time was slightly exaggerated sanding isn't the ideal way to flatten edges, not by hand anyway (power sanders change the picture completely). You can speed the process up a lot by beginning with a far coarser paper than most people think they'd ever want to use, like 40, but taking off this much material in something hard (this is bamboo, often harder than hard maple) isn't something I'd relish doing with any sort of frequency! But it would be the job of just moments with a sharp hand plane or planer. – Graphus Jun 16 '19 at 15:49
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So I was wondering if an electric planer would do a better job at making those edges straight?

Yes. In addition to being far far faster it is much more likely to result in straighter edges. It's possible a planer could straighten the edge pictured in just one or two passes, the work of perhaps 5 seconds.

Unfortunately details of how you'd do this work accurately and safely1 can't be provided because there are too many variables2 but yes in theory you can do this with one.

A hand plane would make this task much safer, and while it would take a little longer you could still be looking at under a minute. However, in addition to having to buy a plane as you clarified in the Comments if you don't already own suitable sharpening equipment you'd need to buy that too. And on top of learning how to use the plane itself you'd have to learn to sharpen well enough to produce a very good edge (something that many struggle with for a long time) in order for the plane to work properly. So while I'd favour this approach myself it's probably not the ideal recommendation for you, unless you already wanted to get into hand planing.

There is an elephant in the room though....

Wrong saw for this type of cut
I understand if the scroll saw is the only saw you have available you have to use it, but it's not well suited to this type of cutting. Scroll saws are made to do intricate, mostly curved cuts and struggle to do straight cuts of any length. Although various tricks can be used to help improve the results3 I'd still recommend looking at some options.

The simplest, cheapest and easiest is a hand saw of some kind. There are numerous decent options available that should cost around the €10 mark, and occasionally less4, with a range of tooth styles — Western, Japanese and a few modern hybrids.

With a sharp saw of any style a cut like this can leave a very good, flat surface that may require no further work depending on what you're doing. Nearly perfect dead-straight crosscuts and mitre cuts are possible with a fine-toothed saw used carefully, especially if the cut is done with the help of an aid such as a mitre block/mitre box, or a magnetic sawing guide which would be clamped to the workpiece.


1 Planers have spinning cutterheads that you want to be very careful not go get fingers near unless a guard can be improvised.

2 Much depends on the specific design details of the planer which are unknown. And then there are two basic approaches, moving the wood past the tool or moving the planer past the wood (similar to shooting done with a hand plane, often done with the wood held in a jig called a shooting board).

3 Simply clamping a straight piece of wood to the bed of the saw to act as a fence and running the wood along it would help a great deal.

4 E.g. from Lidl or Aldi.

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  • Ok seems like I will get myself a hand planer + service equipment and try to learn how to use is correctly. To answer to the "Wrong saw for this type of cut" issue: Yes, I know that long straight cuts is not what the scroll saw is meant for. I actually do have other hand and electric saws including a small circular saw and I do use those. However given that I can only work in my flat, in an appartment block I can not make too much noise regularly and the scroll saw is actually very quiet. I cannot make my hand jigsaw to make straight cuts either and failed to use my japanese saw altogether. – jsf Jun 16 '19 at 17:14
  • If you're intending to do more woodworking then you won't regret getting into hand planes, they're a lifetime purchase and a must-have tool for fine hand work. Plus since noise is a factor working in an apartment something I didn't mention is that electric planers can be very loud (>90dB!) while hand planes are practically silent. SE isn't the ideal place for this but I'd like to help with both purchases if you don't already know what you want, as it's easy to over-spend on planes and on sharpening equipment. {contd] – Graphus Jun 17 '19 at 4:29
  • Buying secondhand is very favoured in some places to get started, for cost and choice. I'm not sure what it's like around Berlin for car-boot sale/flea market equivalents but if there are none then I know eBay.de has many vintage tools and prices for handhobel (especially the wooden type) can be v low. Sharpening surfaces you may need to buy new, because although old stones are widely sold you won't know what you're getting (many are too dirty to identify). Since this old Q&A just resurfaced take a look at my Answer in Does it matter what kind of diamond stone I get? for one option. – Graphus Jun 17 '19 at 4:43
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    "I cannot make my hand jigsaw to make straight cuts either and failed to use my japanese saw altogether." Not sure what you mean by hand jigsaw but sawing well by hand is largely a matter of practice. Most leisure woodworkers just don't do it enough to get really good at it! But with guides and jigs to help it's possible to get excellent results without hours of practice. BTW Japanese-style saws in particular can leave superb sawn surfaces and usually cut fast too so they're well worth persevering with..... remember they cut only on the pull stroke :-) – Graphus Jun 17 '19 at 4:50
  • @jsf I just want to clarify terms, particularly since it sounds like English isn't your first language. A "hand planer" is a handheld electric tool, while a "hand plane" is a manual hand tool. – SaSSafraS1232 Jun 17 '19 at 16:25

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