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Quick Tip: Scale Sculpting

How to Shape Spackling in Difficult Molding Corners

how to paint moldings

[This is part of our How to Paint Moldings series.]

The eye is naturally drawn to the intersections of moldings in corners, and so doing a really good job prepping them is time well spent.

The Problem

Even the most delicate finger is too fat to shape the caulk and sparkling you’ll use to fill small gaps in moldings.

And while this technique works for both caulk and spackling, I’ll focus on the spackling in this post.

The Solution

Using this simple combination of small metal scale with a damp rag will help you sculpt that material into fine relief.

Step 1  Press Spackling Into Corner

You can apply the spackling and then immediately wipe and scrape it away into the shape you want.  But sometimes it’s better to let the spackling harden and then sculpt it.

how to paint moldings

In this example, I had pressed the spackling into the corner and then got distracted.  The spackling hardened, but all was not lost.

Step 2  Shape with Damp Rag

Use a thin, damp, smooth surfaced rag to do your initial shaping.  The damp rag will very slightly moisten the spackling surface, allowing you to shape it to the underlying molding; in this case the molding is an ogee shape.

how to paint moldings

how to paint moldings

I’ve wiped most of the excess spackling away, but some remains in the corners.

Step 3  Sculpt with the Scale

Use the sharp, square edge to scrape away the hardened spackling in the corners.

This will allow you to remove lots of bulk, but may leave some of the edges of the spackling rough.

how to paint moldings

These scales only cost a couple of dollars, and can be found at most any hardware store.

Step 4  Wrap Scale With Rag

When you rub the scale wrapped with the damp rag against the hardened spackling, you will again be moistening the surface enough to smooth any ragged edges or rough surfaces of the spackling.

how to paint moldings

Step 5  Rub the Spackling with the Scale/Rag Combo

Take your time with this step.  If you do a good job on this step you’ll have no more prep work to do here.

how to paint moldings

This corner is now ready to receive a coat of primer.

how to paint moldings

If you find a lump or rough spot after the primer coat goes on, you can still sand the rough spot, but it will be much harder.

how to paint moldings

The spackled corner with a coat of sandable primer on it.

If you do apply some more spackling after the primer is dry — to make your corner absolutely perfect — then you will have to put another coat of primer on the fresh spackling.  But that’s OK, that’s just how it’s done in the process of ever-increasing attention to detail until your moldings are all finished.

If you have questions about this technique, please use the comment section below.

Good luck!

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