I suggest that you buy the bare minimum to start with. If you decide you do not want to continue with stained glass, the investment will be minimal. In comparison, your investment could be $15.00 instead of $50.00. If you visit a local stained glass store they may have you buy a ton of equipment that you do not need at this time. You will not need a grinder, foil, flux, patina, light table, etc. for the time being. That will come later once you have practiced cutting your glass.
Learning how to cut the glass
What you will need:
1. Glass Cutter - I suggest buying a Carbide cutter found at most hardware stores.
The price range is $3.00 - $5.00.
2. Glass - I suggest going to a local glass supplier and asking for some scraps. Since you are learning how to cut instead of making your first piece, the glass will most likely be thrown away or recycled when you are finished using it. Another good source is the Dollar Store. You can purchase a small document frame (5x7 inches, or 8x10 inches) with clear glass in it for about $1.00 plus tax. Just remove the glass from the frame. This type of glass is perfect for learning because it is thin and takes a score easily.
Learning how to cut glass is probably the most important skill you will need in creating stained glass. Become comfortable with using the cutter and seeing how it scores glass. At this point you can chip the glass off to see how well the glass scored by using the opposite end of the cutter. Most cutters have a set of steps built into it that will fit most glass widths. Eventually you will need to buy a pair of glass breakers, they will split the glass down the scored line more easily and evenly.
In a finished piece you will be able to see if someone is proficient at cutting or not by how even the lead lines are. See the examples below.
The first example shows poor cutting skills. The second shows the cutting skills of someone who has the technique mastered.
This example shows poor cutting skills. I have circled the mistakes, but the entire panel was full of poor cutting examples and has the obvious signs of a rushed piece. Notice the large gaps and uneven solder lines. This window was created in China and is made through mass production. Most lamps and panels you find at large retailers will have this type of stained glass. It is made for the sole purpose of mass quantity and not quality. If the glass pieces do not fit together like a puzzle, there will be gaps. Those gaps are then filled with solder. The end product is what you see below. The exception is when an artist intentionally creates gaps and uneven lead lines. You'll see this more in mosaic art as well.
This second example shows good cutting skills. Notice that the lead lines are even and there are not obvious gaps throughout the panel.
Image rights belong to: http://www.ticotech.com/