Do-It-Yourself Patent Search
You can do your own cursory patent search for free at the U. S. Patent Office website, www.uspto.gov/patft/. To see the drawings, however, you'll first need to download a free TIFF reader, which the Patent Office makes available through a hyperlink on their website. Alternatively, go to: www.google.com/patents/.
Do-It-Yourself Utility Patent Application
I don't recommend preparing your own utility patent application, unless it's absolutely your last resort (e.g., you're temporarily flat broke). There are so many opportunities for mistakes that you're sure to make one. But if I can't discourage you from doing so, get the book, "Patent-It-Yourself," by David Pressman and published by Nolo Press.
Do-It-Yourself Provisional Patent Application
If you want to do your own provisional patent application, check out this free provisional patent application kit. A provisional patent application is similar to a utility one except a provisional doesn't require a set of claims nor formal drawings (just hand-inked drawings and/or photographs are fine). A provisional patent application will not be examined for patentability nor will it ever become a patent until, within a year, you convert the provisional into a utility patent application, at which point the Patent Office handles it much like any other non-provisional application. Converting a provisional to a utility involves submitting a set of claims, formal drawings, and a utility filing fee.