The History of the Chainsaw | Amazing Facts

The chainsaw has become a staple tool for homeowners and professionals alike. From cutting down trees to trimming hedges, they are indispensable tools. Looking back at the history of the chain saw, the road to success seems bumpy, but scientists worked a lot to produce such a fantastic tool that is now serving us in many arenas. Chainsaws are versatile tools that allow us to perform multiple tasks. In addition to being an excellent tool for DIY enthusiasts, they’re also commonly used in commercial settings.

These versatile tools have evolved a lot. It is a long journey of evolution from a simple handheld tool to a complex gasoline structure. When we look back at human history, the heavy axes were the initial tool used as a wood-cutting tool. The process of timber cutting was exhausting and laborious. Our ancestors relied on and used pine wood trees and others trees to build shelters, firewood, and many other purposes. Then with time, the concept of the modern chainsaw came into existence.

Let’s look at this fascinating evolutionary process 0f modernization of these cutting tools.

Amazing Fact About the History of the Chainsaw

Can you believe this scary tool can be used to assist the arrival of new life on earth?

Strange ??

Yeah, but it was.

Chainsaws were initially not meant for cutting or trimming trees but were used as medical tools. In the year 1780, two Scottish doctors John Aitken and James Jeffrey invented the initial version of the chainsaw for symphysiotomies to facilitate childbirths by removing pelvic cartilages and ligaments.

This prototype model was powered by a hand crank and looked like a kitchen knife.

Journey From a Handheld tool to the Modern Types of Chain saws

We all know our ancestors used to cut wood using axes, which was too laborious and time-consuming. Thus the need to change the previous versions to the modern form of saws was inevitable.

According to some findings, around 5000 B.C. Germanic tribes invented the first saw. They cut the small teeth into half-moon-shaped flints. Later, bronze was used to produce axes and saws instead of coppèr to make it manageable. Then around 750 B.C., iron replaced bronze to make it durable.

Because chainsaws have great importance in timber and forestry industries, scientists have to work on the chainsaw to get a more valuable and improved version for betterment.

Osteotome- An Old Version of Small Chainsaw

In 1830, German bone specialist Bernhard Heine invented a tool to assist surgical operations for cutting bones. This was a small bone saw: a medical tool for cutting bones.

The anatomy of that small tool was not very complicated and had small cutting teeth, sharp edges, and a sprocket wheel to turn the chain over a gliding bar. 

The cutting teeth ripped through the object to get maximum consequences. But the tool (hand saws) were manual and did not have enough power to do more hard ripping work.

Hamilton Saw- Hand-Cranked Chainsaw

Later, after modifications and continuous work, the famous Hamilton chainsaw was invented in 1861. That hand-cranked chainsaw was like a giant 116 pounds spinning wheel that two men could handle.

After that, in the 1880s American riding saw was another human-powered chainsaw similar to a rowing machine handled by a single man sitting on it for cutting wood.

In England, large circular and band saws were utilized to refine and chop large chunks of timber in the desired thickness and length in the early 19th century.

Moreover, some statements claim that around the 20th century, naturalist John Muir transformed the osteotome into a bigger version of a saw used for logging jobs.

In 1905, on 17 January, the earliest endless chainsaw patented on record was by Samuel J.Bens.That was similar to the modern type of chainsaw with chain teeth running around the guide frame.

Evolution to Mobile Chainsaws

Later on, after a passage of time, in 1918, Canadian scientist James Shand’s first portable chainsaw was invented. But this was not so impressive because it was very bulky and could not be handled easily.Till the end of world war ii the chainsaws were wheeled and were not easy to handle by one person.

Development of the First Electric Chainsaw in the History of the Chainsaw

In 1926, German mechanical engineer Andreas Stihl made a revolutionary achievement in the History of the Chainsaw in the world of chainsaws. Stihl produced the first electrical chainsaw to make logging jobs more effortless than before and made the life of professional loggers and arborists easy.

The invention of Gas-Powered Chainsaws

In the subsequent year, 1927, Emil Lerp, founder of Dolmar chainsaw company, started manufacturing gas-powered chainsaws(Petrol Chainsaws). But that was not also very productive due to its heavy weight.

First One-Man Chainsaw in the History of the Chainsaw

After some years, in 1950, the first one-man chain saw came into existence that also did not turn out to be very impressive due to bulkiness( 30lbs or more).

Introduction of Anti-Vibration System in the History of the Chainsaw

STIHL first introduced the standard feature of anti-vibration technology on most chainsaws in 1964. This excellent feature is really appreciable because it enhances control of the device and reduces the fatigue of the forestry workers. In the initial stages, rubber elements separated the handle from the engine, reducing the vibration to half.

Later, in 1967, the A.V. system advanced with more robust features that we use today.

A polymer replaced magnesium in 1982 and facilitated the reduction of vibrations in modern chainsaws. Then in the late 1990s, steel springs were added to help rubber buffers for more shock absorption.

Addition of Manual Chain Brake Bar

Moreover, in 1972 the manual chain brake bar system was added to chainsaws to reduce kickbacks and accidental damages.

Development of Low Profile Chains in the History of the Chainsaw

Oregon introduced low-profile chains in chainsaws in 1974 to facilitate shallow cuts, which weigh less than standard chains, making them a good match for low-power wood cutting equipments and electric saws. Plus, they reduced the chances of kickbacks as well.

Thinner Tips Chainsaw Blades

In addition, the year 1077 came with the release of thin tip chainsaw blades introduced by Oregon. These banana bars were asymmetric with a small bar-nose that impressively reduced kickbacks in logging chainsaw.

In 1982, an automatic chain brake system was developed to reduce the risk of accidents in certain kickback situations.

1991 was when the automatic start function was added to the chainsaw to reduce users’ fatigue by replacing this new technology with the pull cord.

Moreover, Husqvarna chainsaws appear equipped with the X-Torq®Histo feature, which makes fuel-efficient chainsaws that reduce exhaust emission levels while delivering more power with heavy duty chainsaws and saving human health and the environment from damage.

Moreover, engineers also work on these tools to make them lightweight and portable, so today, chainsaws weigh around 4-6 kg typically, which is easy to use for every age and gender.

Since then, many companies have been producing a large variety of chainsaws and adding more features, and other revolutions are coming day by day focused on user convenience and safety. And the best part is we don’t need to put in more physical effort and time to do any wood-cutting job. Battery-powered chainsaws have made felling trees a  breeze, you can take them wherever you want.

Now an extensive array of wood cutting tools are available for homeowners, landowners, arborists, professional loggers, carvers, etc., and today in the chainsaw industry, timber production is not messy and uncomfortable; instead, they are quick and easy to handle.

FAQs Related to the History of the Chainsaw

Who invented the chain saw and why?

In the late 1800s, 2 Scottish doctors, John Aitken and James Jeffrey invented the first chainsaw for medical purposes to speed up the childbirth process for removal of pelvic bones.

When were chainsaws first used to cut wood?

A German Mechanical Engineer, Andreas Stihl 1926, developed an electric chainsaw for wood cutting. That chainsaw was heavy and operated by two men.

When was the first gas-powered chain saw made?

The first gas chainsaw was invented in 1927 by Emil Lerp, the founder of Dolmar, but that was too bulky.

Wrap Up

Chainsaws have been around since the early 1800s. Initially, they were invented as a medical tool to cut bones and cartilage. In the late 19th century, sawmills began using chainsaws to cut down trees faster than hand-cutting. By the 1920s, chain saws were widespread among loggers, and mobile and motorized chainsaws developed. 

Andreas Stihl patented the “Cutoff Chain Saw for Electric Power in 1926 and revolutionized the world of chainsaws with new features. In 1972 Atom introduced some new features and came with a complete range of chain saws with electronic ignitions, turbo-action, automatic chain break, self-cleaning, air cleaner, etc.

 The history of the chainsaw is rich and tells about the enormous revolutionary advancement from a simple handheld tool to automatic starting equipment with several remarkable features.