The History Of The Chainsaw: From Its Invention To The Present

Nowadays, all property owners can buy and utilize an advanced chainsaw to cut any sort of wood they need.

However, this was not always the case. Chainsaws are a constantly evolving innovation, but have you ever wondered when, why, and how they were invented?

The History Of The Chainsaw: From Its Invention To The Present

Before chainsaws, people had to rely on other tools to cut wood or perform certain surgeries (yes, you read that right!) that became much easier thanks to their invention.

So, if you are curious to know more about the history of chainsaws, there in the past, and their advancements to the present day, keep on reading this article!

The Importance Of Chainsaws In Our Lives

Chainsaws have revolutionised the wood and forest management sectors. Even though we now see them as an everyday piece of gear, our forefathers assembled wood with axes as well as other bulky items, which was an intensive and time-consuming process.

Since ancient times and until the invention of the very first sophisticated chainsaw, this was people’s reality.

The cutting of trees was an unsafe and time-consuming task that demanded great teamwork and lots of perseverance.

Woodlands served as the hub of human civilization. Populations that generated more timber were capable of constructing habitats, allowing them to survive conditions of extreme weather and overcome other challenges.

Timber was utilised to make a wide range of everyday tools as well as more complicated structures. The people who were in control of wood production could also control the components. Fire followed the timber.

The fire was then utilised to melt metal, allowing for the development of more sophisticated weaponry, shields, and military hardware.

Without a doubt, timber was going to dominate the globe.

1800s: The First Chainsaw Is Invented

There are two stories about how and when the first chainsaw was invented.

The first one is about Bernhard Heine, a physician and bone expert from Germany, who is said to have created the “osteotome” sometime around 1830. The osteotome was a groundbreaking new bone-cutting clinical instrument.

It worked as a portable piece of equipment with a lengthy blade that controlled a chain with pointy teeth around it. This chain could be moved by turning a grip attached to a pulley wheel.

The osteotome made cutting through bones way simpler than it was when using a hammer and chisel which led to fracturing.

Thanks to the newly invented osteotome, surgeries like a craniotomy could be performed with smooth-edged openings and access to topographies that a circular saw couldn’t reach.

Even though it was not utilised at first for cutting wood, the osteotome was theoretically the very first chainsaw to ever be made.

The other one is that the first chainsaw was devised to aid in labor and delivery – fortunately, it was a far cry from the electric-powered beasts utilised for cutting wood and deforestation nowadays.

In this story, the first chainsaw model was created in the late 18th century by two Scottish practitioners, John Aitken and James Jeffrey, for the purpose of effectively conducting a symphysiotomy.

Symphysiotomy is a process followed in surgeries where the surgeon divides the cartilage of the pubic symphysis to expand the pelvis when the baby is stuck, and a C-section is not an option.

Hitherto, the procedure had been performed with a knife, which required a lot of time and was excruciating. This chainsaw worked in the exact same way, with the pointy teeth turning around.

Symphysiotomies are not conducted in contemporary surgeries, as giving birth is now much easier and the procedures are more innovative than they were previously.

1861-1918: The First Advancements Of The Chainsaw

The Hamilton Saw, a hand-cranked chainsaw utilised by two men that resembled an enormous spinning wheel, was developed in 1861.

The American Riding Saw, a further human-powered chainsaw, first appeared in the 1880s. This kind of chainsaw, though, appeared to be a rowing machine that only one individual sat on and operated.

According to certain sources, near the turn of the 20th century, an innovator and naturalist called John Muir became the first individual to apply the concept of the osteotome to a piece of bigger mechanical equipment utilised for deforestation.

Yet, Muir’s innovation of the logging chainsaw did weigh several hundred pounds and needed a crane to operate, resulting in poor commercialisation opportunities.

On Jan 17, 1905, Samuel J. Bens received the first trademark for a chainsaw with chain teeth that went around a guide frame.

Canadian James Shand trademarked the first mobile chainsaw in 1918. Nevertheless, because it was rather big and clunky, and difficult to utilise, it was not a resounding hit.

The 1920s: Portable Chainsaws Are Produced

Andreas Stihl, a mechanical engineer from Germany, trademarked the first electric chainsaw for logging uses in 1926.

Stihl produced a chainsaw model that was powered by gas in 1929, three years following his first trademark chainsaw.

However, Emil Lerp, founder of the Dolmar chainsaw firm, also proceeded to manufacture chainsaws that were operated with gas in 1927.

Despite the fact that Stihl and Dolmar both developed chainsaws approximately during the same period, Andreas Stihl is known for inventing portable and motorised chainsaws.

1939-Present: The Way To The Modern Chainsaw

The History Of The Chainsaw: From Its Invention To The Present

But it was not before WWII had begun that advancements in aluminium and motor structure took place that made the chainsaws lightweight enough for a single individual to handle them.

The first chainsaws to be carried by a single individual were manufactured in 1950, yet they were still rather big, weighing around 30 lbs. or more.

To facilitate the task of holding it for longer, the first antivibration systems for chainsaws were introduced in 1964.

The manual chain braking system was introduced to Stihl chainsaws in 1972 to prevent the chains from turning when the bars were pressed during kickback.

Oregon constructed slimmer chains in 1974 to decrease the risk of kickbacks. Then, they went on to introduce chainsaw blades with slimmer tips in 1977.

These oblique forms with tinier bar noses, dubbed “banana bars,” were extremely successful in decreasing kickbacks.

A significant milestone was achieved in 1973, when Husqvarna, worried about safety, developed the automatic chain braking system. Husqvarna’s groundbreaking development successfully founded safety regulations. As an outcome of this breakthrough, a large number of injury incidents were avoided.

The company then introduced the Husqvarna 40, a lighter-weight composite chainsaw, in 1980. Because of its convenient structure and lightweight, it could be utilized for an even longer time.

The chainsaw’s fully automated starting feature was introduced in 1991 as a replacement for the pull cord.

Husqvarna yet again fundamentally changed the chainsaw sector when it introduced the planet to the AutoTune feature. The latest update, launched in 2009, instantly controlled gas circulation, maximising efficiency and lowering exhaust gas emissions.

In 2012, a line of battery products offering petrol efficiency was introduced in the chainsaw market.

This essentially implied that no exhaust emissions would be made and that the noise would be significantly lowered.

Therefore, upkeep was optimised, and vibration rates were reduced to an all-time low.

Modern Chainsaws’ Features

The chainsaws’ basic components are the chain, the motor, and the cutting bar. The bars are the chainsaw blades around which the chains rotate.

The types of cutting tasks that your chainsaw can handle are determined by the bar’s size and engine capacity.

The bar’s size can be anything from 12-36 inches and beyond. Bars from 14 to 16 inches are perfect for casual and simple use by property owners, whereas bars from 18 to 20 inches are suitable for big-diameter cuttings.

To guarantee smooth functioning, you must keep the chain under the right tension, properly sharpened, and lubricated.

The motor’s capacity is measured in inches and its power is translated into horsepower. A bigger engine will produce more power but will be heavier and requires more effort after extended use.

The Bottom Line

Even though chainsaws have evolved a great deal from when they were first invented back in the 1800s, these pieces of machinery are still evolving at a rapid speed.

We now have highly mobile and light chainsaws that can be gas-powered, battery-operated, or work on electricity. You can also select from a variety of bar sizes ranging from a 6-inch to a 72-inch chainsaw and everything in between.

Humans can just speculate about what sort of advancements will come for chainsaws. However, now that you have read and learned how far we’ve come from the first chainsaw, you can imagine how great the progress can be.

Brian Freis