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How to Build a Lighted Poker Table Rail

Assembling the Lighted Rail

For this step we will be using piece D (the riser), piece C (the top of the rail), and piece B (the bottom of the rail).  The first step is to make a notch in piece D with your jigsaw.  This notch should be on one of the long sides of the oval ring, be about 6-8" long and extend about 2/3 of the way through the rail (Figure 3-1).  This is where your rope light will pass behind itself completing the ring and drop down below the table to connect to power. The exact position and size of this cutout is not all that important.

Cut out on the rail for lights to pass through

At this point, if you plan to paint the inside edge of D, and you probably should, you should do so.  With the notch cut, place piece D on top of piece C and line up the edges.  Once you are happy with the fit, secure the two pieces together with 1 1/4" wood screws (Figure 3-2).

Assembling lighted rail to be upholstered

Upholstering the Lighted Rail

You now have the top section of the rail assembled and it's time to upholster what you have.  Begin by laying your 1" rail foam down flat on the ground.  Next you will apply a light coat of adhesive to the top side of the rail (C) and lay it down on top of  your foam with the adhesive side facing the foam.

padding the lighted rail

Once the foam is secured to the top of the rail, you can proceed to cut the extra foam off leaving 2-3" of overhang on the outside of the ring and 1" around the inside of the ring.  This will allow your rail to be padded on all sides.  Now lay your rail vinyl down flat, with the good side down, and lay the padded wood on top of it, making sure that it is centered (Figure 3-4).

Upholstering your Poker Table Rail

It's time to start stretching your vinyl.  This is where building a poker table can become an art form.  The trick here is to pull out all of the wrinkles and folds making your rail smooth and seemless all the way around.

The best place to start is at the ends.  Like on your playing surface, you can fold one end over and add a few staples.  Next you will move the the opposite end and add a couple of staples there after you pull the vinyl very tight.  Now repeat this step on each of the sides always pulling the vinyl tight.  I like to next to to what would be the corners and pull those tight and get a few staples in.  Then I pull and staple the long straight sides.  All that should be left are the arcs, and they are already secured in the middle.

The best way to upholster the arcs is to continually pull and staple directly between your previous staples.  That is to say, the next place you want to work is half wey between the end of the table, and the staples you already have in the arc.  This allows you to continually cut unstapled areas in half and prevents the bunching that often happens when you try to upholster a long stretch all at once.

Once you have the outside of the rail to your liking (don't be afraid to pull staples out and restretch if something is not perfect), you can cut off the extra fabric and get to work on the inside.  The first step here is to cut a straight line from end to end, leaving about 3 inches of fabric uncut at each end.  Then you will cut a pie pattern around the arcs that will allow you to stretch the fabric easily (Figure 3-5).

Stapling Vinyl Around Outside

The inner ring will upholster similar to the outer ring in that you are constantly moving, stretching, and stapling.  The easiest way to do this one is to first staple a 2-3" section at each end and where the arcs begin.  Then you are free to pull and staple the long sections and the rest of the arcs.  When you're done, and everything is tight and wrinkle free, cut off all of the extra vinyl (Figure 3-6).

Upholstering Inside of Poker Table Rail

Now it's time to add the base of the rail.  The first step is laying the bottom of the rail (B) on top of the upholstered rail and marking where your notch is cut out.  Then you will have to drill an angled hole for the lights to easily drop through.  The size of this hole will be dependant on the size of rope light you are using.  The importand part is to drill it at enough of an angle that the lights will seemlessly feed through without having to bend.

The next step is deciding how you would like to finish the exposed area on the outside of the rail.  Simple options are paint and finishing strips but this is totally up to you.  Once the outside of B is finished, you can lay it down and attach it to the rest of the rail with 1 1/4" wood screws (Figure 3-7).

Assembling Lighted Poker Table Rail

Your rail is now complete and it is time to add the lights.  To do this, you can either secure them around the inner edge of the rail, below the padded area, with the clips provided, or use your own screws/staples and zip ties.  If ind that the later works better, but this is up to you.  When adding the rope light, you want to start at the beginning of your notch and work your way around away from the notch.  Note that you will have to secure the light to the underside of the padded section where the notch is present.  For the rest of the rail, you can simply secure to the inner edge of the riser.  Once all the way around, the end should feed through your angled hole and you're ready for the connectors to go on (Figure 3-8).

Adding Lights to The Poker Table Rail

A cross section has been included to help clear up anything that was previously unclear in Figure 3-9.

Lighted Rail Cross Section

That's it! You have not built your lighted rail.  It's finally time to put it all together.  Move on to Step Five - Assembling Your Lighted Poker Table.

 
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