I agree with joejack951 and BCRider. Levers, cables/housings, or calipers could be causing this. If this bike has seen a significant time of outdoor storage, cables/housings get my vote for being problematic. As you have indicated that you want to learn to do your own repairs, you might want to get some new cables/housings and replace them. You can get a kit with front/rear, or buy some good bulk housing and cables to use. I get some of mine from loosescrews.com. They have lots of other goodies too, if you want to see what is out there.
If you decide to get new, I recommend a lined casing for reduced friction.
Might also help to lube the pivot points on your calipers.
Last edited by badamsjr; 07-21-10 at 07:23 PM.