It’s a really good question. When were chainsaws invented really? Keen to find out?
Great stuff. You’ve landed in the best right place.
In this ToolGaloreHQ.com blog, we will show you:
- The interesting truth
- Super interesting facts
- How chainsaws have improved since invention
- And So Much More!
Interesting Facts About When Chainsaws Were Invented
So, this might shock you – but chainsaws were not originally created or intended to be used for felling trees. Infact they were originally invented by two Scottish surgeons – John Aitken and James Jeffray to help widen the pelvic area for child birth.
John Aitken was the senior president of the medical society in Edinburgh, whilst his counterpart James Jeffray to this day holds the record for the longest serving Scottish professorship. Which was 58 years.
Now before you lose your mind and think – how inhumane! Hang with me for a minute as I explain, why and how ingenious this was given the medical advancements at the time.
So, during the 18th century child birthing for women was a real health hazard, and there are a couple of reasons as to why this was the case.
First and foremost natural birth was the only way in which a women could give birth during this time. If for whatever reason the baby got stuck – be it that they were too large for the pelvic area or they were facing the exit feet first, then the only alternative was to perform a procedure called a symphysiotomy.
Don’t worry about the tough to pronounce medical term – It was basically a very intrusive way of clearing the cartilage and widen the pelvic area to allow baby to pass through. Mind you anesthesia had not been invented as of yet.
The Scottish chainsaw (as it famously become known) was by no means painless but it was definitely a lot quick and more efficient that the knife and manual saw cutters available at the time.
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In 1827 however Bernard Heine created a tool that drastically improved upon the original Scottish chainsaw design. He called this tool the Osteotome – which literally means bone cutter.
And that is the story of when chainsaws were invented. However if you are anything like me, you might be asking yourself how did they end up becoming these mean looking machines that they are today, fully capable of cutting down trees. Keep reading.
Main Phases Of When Chainsaws Were Invented
With the advancements in medicine the bone cutter slowly became a tool of the past, however the wood cutting fraternity picked up from this development and continued to develop the tool further.
Hence making it bulkier, larger and more powerful. Below I highlight some of the key milestones in chainsaw history. Let’s have a look at each.
1926: Stihl First electric chainsaw only came into use 1926
In 1926 Andreas Stihl, the swiss born engineer patented the “Cutoff Chainsaw for Electric Power”. This was the world first electric chainsaw.
This tool was so heavy and bulky that you really couldn’t operate it without the help of at least 2 people. It weighed around 64 kg.
1927: Dolmar - first petrol powered chainsaw
The following year in 1927 Emil Lerp an entrepreneur developed and created the world’s first petrol powered chainsaw. It was named the Dolmar because the actual chainsaw was used for the very first time in Thuringia (alt 739) at the peak of the Dolmar mountains.
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1950: One Man Chainsaw - major breakthrough
Once world war 2 ended, markets began to open up as many countries were starting to rebuild their countries. This led to mass market commercialization of power tools such as the chainsaw.
Then in 1950, the world’s very chainsaw capable of being operated by a single person was produced. It was still quite heavy comparatively speaking when factoring in todays machines. Coming in at about 12 kg (where as your typical chainsaw ranges between 4 to 8 kg).
1964 - 1991: Antivibration system, Chains Brake, Quickstop, Catalyzer and Automatic start
Technology continued to progress and in 1964, Stihl patented anti-vibration systems for chainsaws, which included the use of rubber dampers and separate handles. This drastically reduced the fatigue and vibration that was familiar with these power tools at the time.
This period saw rapid technological advancements for the chainsaw. We saw the introduction of chain brakes – which are safety stops that practically halt movement of the chain belt when kickback occurs whilst in operation.
A front hand guard called the quickstop was also incorporated into most modern day chainsaw designs. This specific cover is designated to prevent the operators hand from coming into contact with the chain.
Also during this period, catalytic inverters were incorporated into chainsaws. A catalytic inverter is designed to reduce and minimize the unburnt components found within the exhaust fumes by up to 80%. The best part about this device is that it is generally maintenance free throughout the lifetime of the tool.
Also the innovations of quickstop, catalyzer and the invention of an automatic start really spearheaded future innovations that were to come with the advancements and improvements in computer technology, machine and artificial intelligence.
Continual Improvement Of The Chainsaw
Today, with the boom of artificial intelligence and machine learning, coupled with improvements on material science, chainsaws are continuously pushing the trend to become a lot safer, lighter and provide even better noise and vibration control.
Also one thing that many of the key original equipment manufacturers have taken into account is the ability for these tools to last longer and require a lot less maintenance.
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Final Thoughts On When Chainsaws were invented
I had a lot of fun putting this article together. My hope is that although the original usage of chainsaws was for medical purposes, this article has provided you with how the progression has occurred gradually over time.
Furthermore with the many advancements in material science, manufacturing techniques and operation maintenance chainsaws have come a long way from the Osteotome of the early 19th century.