Decades of Experience

Spanning decades of experience, Butler has owned many woodworking machines and built his personal collection of tools to equip a well-outfitted workshop for many kinds of projects involving metal working, plastics, fiberglass fabrication, electronics and, of course, woodworking. He especially enjoys building reproductions of the 18th-19th century American classic furniture.

The gallery at the bottom of this page showcases a few of his projects.

The Force Behind Whirlwind Tool Co.

Whirlwind Tool Co. principal David Butler has been working and building with wood for more than 50 years. As a child, he would often stop after school at the local cabinet shop and stand in the doorway pestering the cabinetmaker with questions. Soon he was allowed in the shop and would sometimes receive pocket change for sweeping and cleaning up.

Butler recalls how the cabinetmaker was heavily bandaged on one hand, having recently amputated two fingers in a table saw accident. After some weeks, the young apprentice was allowed to use the bandsaw and the drill press — but never the table saw.

Butler later attended a vocational high school majoring in cabinetmaking. He was trained and exposed to all manner of heavy industrial woodworking machines, some of which were still powered from overhead line shafts driven by 20 ft-long leather belts. Following graduation he enlisted in the Navy and went into electronics. He did not return to any 'serious woodworking' for many years, and then almost exclusively as an avocation.

Upon discharge from the service, he entered the computer industry as a field engineer. His career included positions with IBM, General Electric and Digital Equipment Corporation. Retiring from the computer field as an international customer service manager, Butler made a career change and worked for an international law firm in a unique engineering capacity supporting a team of environmental lawyers in various engineering areas including field investigations and extensive trial work. The experience made him keenly aware of the complex positions of both parties involving tort law.

David Butler Woodworking Portfolio

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Seymour Sideboard [Click here to enlarge] This Federal period sideboard pair was crafted in 2002 in the style of Boston cabinetmakers John and Thomas Seymour, circa 1795. Built from a plan published by Glen Huey in his book Fine Furniture for a Lifetime, the original piece was shown as Catalogue #35 in the book The Furniture Masterworks of John & Thomas Seymour. The original piece had a Carrera marble top cutting surface, I substituted birdseye maple to spare the slim legs the extra 70 pounds of weight. The principal woods here are mahogany, striped maple, birdseye maple and walnut.
Connecticut River Highboy A Connecticut River Highboy crafted from mahogany — built about 1985 from a plan published in a magazine, though I don't recall which one. This one had carved center sunbursts and hand-cut drawer dovetails which encode a telephone number.
Chippendale Table Narrow tables of suitable proportions for use in a hallway are sometimes difficult to find. In the mid-1980s, starting with a magazine photo of a card table, I developed this table design with the elaborate fretwork on three sides. This piece suggests the Chinese and Gothic influences from the work of Thomas Chippendale, the first non-monarch to have a furniture style named for him.
Staircase Makeover for a Bride This 'Now & Then' photo comparison shows the renovation of a staircase from blah to beautiful with carved seashell and starfish accents.
Tall Case Clock This tall case clock is one of three I built in 1990, in the style of Newport cabinetmakers Townsend & Goddard, circa 1780. It is also based upon another reproduction piece that I was able to measure. The clock shown was crafted from two planks of African mahogany boat lumber and remains at home with us today. It isn't clear if Townsend & Goddard built clock cases with their distinctive block and shell design, but they no doubt built clock cases. A famous six shell desk/bookcase built by John Goddard for the Brown family, the founders of Brown University, recently sold for $12.1 million. John Goddard died a near pauper.
Governor Winthrop Desks I crafted this pair of slant front desks in late 1980s based upon a Wallace Nutting design circa 1930. I found some walnut at a lumber dealer who sold it to me as #2 common for a great price. Maybe it was properly graded but it had great beauty and very little waste. It is truly gunstock walnut. This style desk became popular during the late 19th century and they are widely treasured as "Governor Winthrop" desks. Still, it is unlikely that Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop ever saw such a contraption. He died in 1649.

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