looking to try my hand at making sausages at home and looking for some advise on where t get casings and what kind? also, any other advice is welcome too
let me second the sausagemaker.com I have bought all my stuff, including hardware from them. Bought one of their books (excellent) and also bought Bruce Aidell's book (also excellent).
Word of advice: Upgrade to the 5lb crank model stuffer like Monch has. I got the smaller push model and it's a bear! (And an electric meat grinder would be nice too)
I also decided to buy the Hamburger Patty Maker and now find I make sausage patties as much as i do links. It's a lot faster and easier and taste just as good.
I make a lot of Linguica and home since it's hard to find here. I modified the recipe to my liking and actually use some bacon or sometimes lard to add extra fat.
Have a look here http://www.sausagemania.com/ for some good sausage idea and a tutorial (plus they have an excel spreadsheat of recipes). Also here: http://www.stuffers.com/ Look to the left side of the front page mostly. they sell all manner of casings. You should try some loose sausage like say... chorizo too. Fun Fun
Agree with Karl S, the fat is an absolute must for juicy links. Even if you're using pork shoulder, which you should be, you're going to need extra fat. Some butchers will give you the fat for free. I've used pancetta on a few occasions to boost the fat content, but that's more $$$.
Depending on where you are, most italian or eastern european butcher shops (or any good butcher shop, for that matter) should be able to sell you casings. Casing is cheap. You need to soak it and run water through it to rid if of the preserving salt. Other than that, just some nimble hands to work with the stuff.
As for what kind, you have either pork or lamb. Pork is the standard stuff and is cheap. Lamb is more difficult to locate, more expensive, but is a must if you're making Merguez or have friends who don't eat pork. The synthetic stuff, I don't know anything about. Haven't used it.
If you happen to have a kitchenaid stand mixer, the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments work well. Meat grinder you get to use for a bunch of other ground meat applications, so a useful investment. Another tip with this, if you're planning on using garlic or herbs or sundried tomatoes or whatever in your sausage, run those through the grinder at the same time you're doing the meat.
Internet has a bunch of tips on sausage making. AS for recipes, I find those come to mind pretty easily on your own. Final tip, fry a bit of the loose meat in a pan to test for seasoning/flavour before you stuff the links.
Sausage making is one of the most rewarding home cooking activities I've undertaken. You get to experiment so much. I love a nice pork sausage, but the lamb is also becoming a fast favourite. And I've worked with duck as well. It's a lot of fun, and if you're a few people, make a party out of it.