This section is from the book "The Boy Mechanic Vol. 2 1000 Things for Boys to Do", by Popular Mechanics Co.. Also available from Amazon: The Boy Mechanic, Vol2: 1000 Things for Boys to Do.
A good method to prevent oilcloth from cracking, when it is used on shop tables or counters, is to first cut a paper cover for the table on which to place the oilcloth and prepare it as follows: The paper should be well oiled with common machine oil and placed smoothly on the table to be covered. The oilcloth is then smoothed out on top of the paper and stretched tightly. The oiled paper tends to keep the under side of the cloth moist, which prevents cracking. The cloth wears much longer because the paper acts as a pad