I've had a few people ask about learning to do stained glass. So I thought I'd post some suggestions and list out things you'll need to get started.
Take a class
It's well worth the cost to take classes. These folks have been doing this for a while and can show you lots of techniques and tips that will save you lots of heartache.
Always wear safety glasses.
Do not breath glass dust, this can kill you. When grinding glass, be sure you are using water on the grinding bit to prevent dust from getting into the air. Breathing glass dust can result in a disease call pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis or silicosis for short ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicosis )
Work in a well ventilated area. Lead and the fumes from soldering are not good to breath.
Basic methods of doing stained glass
The two basic methods of doing stained glass (there are others) are leaded and foiled.
Leaded glass is a method that uses actual lead strips, called came, that have channels cut into them that allow you to assemble glass pieces together much like a raised panel door. The ends of the lead are then soldered to hold the project together.
Foiling glass involves using an adhesive backed copper foil to wrap each individual piece of glass used in the project. Once all pieces have been wrapped, they are laid out as they will be in the finished project. Each piece is soldered together with a bead of solder covering the foil wrapping. Smaller projects will stay together without additional reinforcement; however larger projects may require a frame added to support the weight of the combined glass pieces.
Basic tools needed:
Glass cutter (a self lubricating type)
Breaker pliers (sometimes called runners)
Glass grinder (with a water reservoir)
Soldering Iron (100 Watt recommended)
Rest for the soldering iron, one with a cleaning sponge is recommended
Chemical resistant gloves
Solder (60/40 or lead free)
Horse shoe nails
Glazing Hammer (soft tip)
Brass bristle wire brush (for removing oxidation)
A glue stick (for gluing your pattern pieces to each piece of glass to cut)
A light table (optional)
Additional tools for Lead
Lead nippers (cutters)
Lead vise (for stretching lead came)
Lead Shears (optional, for cutting out your pattern) **
Additional tools for Foiling
Fid or Burnisher
Foil Shears (optional, for cutting out your pattern) **
Foil dispenser (optional)
**The Lead and Foil shears mentioned above are special scissors that have an extra blade (different widths for each type). They are used to keep your pattern to its original size by cutting out the waste from each piece that would be the width of the came or foil.
Places like Hobby Lobby carry glass, but once every few months they have glass sales where the glass is half off. Ive found their glass to be acceptable for most projects, but it is a lower grade of glass and can be more brittle. They are also a good source for the supplies, but check around with your local shops and the internet.
Be sure to use soap and water to clean your projects well. The flux contains an acid that will continue to tarnish your work if not removed completely.
I do most of my work on a particle board work surface (24 X 24 X ½) that has two 1 X 2 rails nailed on the bottom and left sides to give me a right angle to work and assemble against. The particle board gives me a surface that I can hammer in the horse shoe nails to hold my work in place for soldering and assembly.
When cutting glass, start about 1/16 in and stop about 1/16 short of the edges of the glass, do not roll over the edge as it can dull your cutter.