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.

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