Covering rails is probably the most difficult part of recovering a pool table. However, if you know a few tricks of the trade it can make the job go much easier.
A common question is how tight do I pull the cloth? The answer is not so tight that you create ripples in the cloth, yet tight enough to eliminate any and all looseness. Also,
A common mistake is not putting the staples close enough to each other. Spreading the staples too far apart may result in ripples showing up later down the road. You will want to use very short staples. Generally, rails are hard wood which will make pulling staples difficult. We use 1/4 inch. The average distance between staples is about 1/8 to 3/8 inches apart.
Another suggestion is to anticipate bunching of cloth. As you move down the rail, you may notice that your cloth starting to bunch. If you don't start compensating early, you may end up with a excess cloth at the end of your rail. This will force you to un-pick and start over.
The bottom line when covering rails is to eliminate all wrinkles where the cloth will be showing. It doesn't matter underneath the rail, wrinke as much as you like, but on top it should be baby-bottom smooth. And one more thing. It's okay to unpick and re-work the rail. Even the pro's find themselves unpicking to get it right. If there is any one area where you should take your time, it is on the rails. Getting these right will make your table look and play the way it should.Images click to enlarge