Recovering the rails
Rail - the whole, covered rail.
Rail rubber or Rail cushion - what the ball bounces off. The part covered by the felt.
Featherstrip - a wood or plastic strip that holds the felt to the top of the rail.
* Don't get confused with the words "cloth" and "felt", they mean the same thing.
Setting the featherstrip
Make sure the featherstrip channel is cleaned out.
Lay the rail felt out on the rail.
Make sure the "TOP" sticker is face down at this point so when you turn the cloth over to staple it will then be face up. Take the sticker off when done with the rail. Start working the featherstrip into the channel by hand.
Use a pounding or flat block with a wooden featherstrip. Use a seam roller with flexible plastic featherstrip.
The featherstrip holds the felt on the top of the rail. Once pressed into the channel it should be flush with the top of the rail. If it doesnt come out right, pull the featherstrip and start over. Be careful with wood featherstrips as they like to break.
Be VERY careful at this point. Note here which part of the cloth is being cut - which is the excess closest to the rubber part of the rail.
Make sure the top looks good and flush before starting to staple the bottom. Brush the rubber and felt by hand to clean any dirt or debris. Make sure there are no felt pieces or lint. Anything that gets in between the felt and rail rubber will create bumps on the finished rail. Now flip the rail over to start stapling the bottom. Follow the pictures below. Make sure you read the instructions on the previous page so you know which rail end to start with especially for the 2 end rails.
Pull the felt snug as you staple. DONT pull too tight or you will pull the felt out of the featherstrip channel.
Installing the bedcloth
Before you do anything, make sure the slate is screwed down, the table is level and you have applied filler to the slate seams and any holes or gouges in the playing area of the slate. Any imperfections you dont fix now will be noticeable once the felt is applied. Use a damp cloth to clean the slate of any dust, dirt or debris. Allow to dry. Now use your hands and clean the slate again. By using your hands you can feel for any problems with the slate so they can be fixed before applying the bedcloth.
In the pictures below, application is shown using glue (contact glue, 3M #77). If you can use a stapler then just follow along and use staples instead. DO NOT STAPLE or GLUE in the 6 pocket cut outs at this time. DO NOT TRIM any excess felt until all 4 sides of the table are done.
If using spray glue, be aware of overspray. Use some old newspapers or cardboard to keep overspray from getting on the playing surface. Try to keep glue off your fingers also as you will surely get it on the playing surface and its a pain to get off. When using glue you want the cloth to adhere to the edge of the slate. If you get some on the top of the slate that is ok. It is not necessary to have any adhesion under the slate except in the pocket areas.
Start at 1 end and glue or staple.
Then go to the other end, pull the felt snug and staple. If using glue, pull the felt snug and determine about where the felt will match up with the edge of the slate. Flip the felt over so it is out of the way. Spray glue on the edge of the slate. Now spray glue about 6" wide on the felt where you determined it will match the slate edge when stretched. Allow to dry for about 3 minutes then pull snug and apply. The idea is to have the glued part of the felt meet the glued edge of the slate. If you don't get it exactly right, pull it off, restretch and reapply. The glue is workable for about 5 minutes so no need for any additional glue unless the felt is not sticking.
Pocket cuts NOW IS THE TIME TO BE SUPER-CAREFUL. Think and measure twice, cut once. Always cut a little less. Its easier to cut a bit more if you need to but if you already cut too much, its too late. Make sure you have a fresh blade in your razor knife. Sharpness is critical here.
If you need to make more cuts then shown here that is ok. The idea is to have the "felt fingers" fall rather loosely so they can be folded under the slate and be stapled or glued.
If using glue, make sure you have something behind the "felt fingers" so you dont overspray onto the playing area. We let them hang down (as in the previous picture) then spray from under the table so there is no chance of getting glue on the playing surface. Do that or put a piece of cardboard behind the "felt fingers" when you spray them.
Do not pull too tightly on the "felt fingers" or you may tear the cloth. Put a thumb on top, grab the bottom and fold under. If stapling, staple to the middle of the wood edge, then put any remaining felt underneath and staple. If gluing, the glue should adhere at the edge of the slate and under the slate.
You want to achieve a nice tight finish in the pocket areas.
Now replace the blade in your razor knive and cut out the holes for the rail bolts. Feel for the holes from underneath the slate. Be careful not to overcut the holes or cut your fingers.
Now you can install the rails. Additional Rail help can be found Here.