Ken Von der Heyden
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I've been figuring out how to make things since I was 15 and a neighbor asked me to repair some steps up to his orchard. Long before treated lumber, the steps had been outside for many years and were rotting. I confessed to having no idea about how to build steps but he said, "the old ones were right there, build them the same. Wood's over there and the tools are in the barn". Those were simple enough instructions to get those stairs built and those stairs still worked many years later. It's sort of been that way ever since, but now I have my own tools and I've learned how to use wood, metals, stone, light, clay and all those other ones that you mix and then pour in molds or smear on something.
In the mid seventies, after college (marine bio and philosophy) and the Army (mechanized infantry), I was on the board of a theater troop in Bridgehampton - Spindrift Theater - where I designed and built the sets. For years afterwards I did work for Guild Hall Community Theatre and Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor. Along with these activities, I was building props for commercials, videos, and television. Anyone remember the first two Jon Stewart sets? MTV and CBS. It was in the 70's that I also started working on restaurants and cooking in them as well. I built the first for myself in '79 in Miller Place and the second, and last, as owner/chef in '83 in Southampton - Shinnecock Hills actually - just east of the canal. Since then, I've built another ten or so bars and restaurants for other people. I've always enjoyed these endeavors, as they usually result in favored treatment at the bar or table.
Since then, I've discovered that I'm happiest figuring something out or making tools to get what I need done. So that's what I do now. If you have something odd that you need done, I'd love to see that it happens for you. I'm sure that I'll learn something in the process. I hope I can help you.