The House Historian
Nobody appreciates the history of old houses more than we do. But for someone who really wants to get up close and personal with America's architectural past, there's no better way than a volunteer dig sponsored by the American Institute of Archaeology. In past years, participants have explored prehistoric Pueblo settlements in New Mexico and the estates of early American generals. No experience necessary, just enthusiasm and a fondness for dirt. Prices vary, some digs are free; archaeological.org

1. Archaeology Trowels
These sturdy Marshalltown trowels are the first choice for archaeologists, who use the blades to hack through roots and soil, plus they're handy for brickwork around the house. About $12— $26; allislandmasonsupply.com

2. Handheld GPS
Now where was that old foundation wall? Note the exact location with a wireless handheld GPS device and you'll never have to wonder. About $450; garmin.com

3. Pocket Multitool
What you can't chop through with a trowel, slash through with this garden multitool's curved blades and toothed mini saw. About $60; leatherman.com

4. Magnifying Glass
Use it to look closely at a relic—or when you need to study a map when you're lost. About $10; leesartshop.com

5. Digital Camera
This 7-megapixel camera has 10x optical zoom and image stabilization to keep the picture steady even if your hands aren't. About $339; olympusamerica.com

6. Day Pack
A sturdy internal frame takes stress off your back while letting you keep your hands free on the dig site—or anywhere else. $149; ems.com

7. Clipboard Case
Document newly discovered artifacts, or just stuff lunch receipts in one of two internal compartments of this rugged aluminum clipboard. About $29; professionalequipment.com

8. Work Boots
Good for doing the Indiana Jones thing, or for setting that bluestone walkway. About $130; timberland.com

Ask TOH users about Hand Tools

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