Many reports are explaining how the chainsaw we use today was invented. Though these reports give different dates and accounts for the invention of the chainsaw, they’ll conform to one major point- the development of a motorized chainsaw made work easier and led to an increase in the timber production.
First forward in the modern world, the machine still enjoys wide popularity in both home and commercial use.
Below is a complete history of how the chainsaw was invented. This post has been carefully researched to offer you the real dates and development stages through which the first chainsaw has evolved to become what we use today.
From An Axe To Saw
The ax is the oldest tool used by humans to cut wood. Made from different material such as stone, bronze, copper and iron, it has remained one of the widely used tools for cutting down trees right into the 19th century.
Then around 5000 B.C. made an invention that would forever change the way we fell trees- they invented the first saw! The saw was directly made by nicking small teeth into half-moon shaped flints. With the discovery of copper, it was used in the form of bronze to produce saws. Around the 750 BC, iron replaces bronze in axes (while saws remained out of bronze for centuries).
Note that the first saws found more use by the surgeons, artists, and doctors than in the forests.
Fast forward, around 1500 BC, Leonardo da Vinci is said to have spent some time working on the saw. He sketched the first ever saw teeth which worked by pushing and pulling. Up to now, the machines work either by pulling (Asia) o by pushing (Europe).
First Circular and Band Saw
Around 1800, the first circular and band saws were designed in England. At this time, the saw has not yet replaced the ax altogether. The ax was used for felling and debranching the tree while the saw was used to cut to length.
The saw continued playing the minor role and even remained unknown in many places. At around 1752, Empress Maria Theresa decreed that trees shouldn’t be cut in the traditional way with the axe, but with a saw near the roots. According to her, this will not only reduce the wastage of timber, but it will also promote better fertilization (sawdust will decompose faster than the wood shavings).
The decree was however ignored for varied reasons, the main one being that saws were quite expensive compared to the axes.
Although this saw known in antiquity- Egypt and Rome- it only enjoyed wide usage in Central Europe towards mid 18th century. It not only led to an increased timber yield, but it also offered numerous advantages to the forest owners.
Development of The First Motorized Saw
It was until in the 1920s that someone invented a better chainsaw. Three names carry credit for the modern chainsaw- Wolf (USA), Westflet (Sweden), and Stihl (Germany). The latter is the oldest and the largest producer of chainsaws in the world- founded in 1926.
The idea that led to the invention of what we call chainsaw today was to make the heavy forestry work lighter with the help of the machine. This would also translate to increased productive and more profits.
The main development phases of the chainsaw are:
1926: Andreas Stihl patents 2-person saws. These were the 116-pound electric and the 139-pound gas models.
1941: US troops take the above two types home from Europe to be imitated.
1945: Chainsaws used before the end of the Second World War are heavy and required two individuals to operate. The development of aluminum alloy plus forged steel parts leads to the design of one-man saws.
1947: Joseph Buford Cox- inspired by the timber beetle larvae which chews both across and with the wood grain- invents the first Cox Chipper Chain.
1949: McCollum Motors Corp. debuts the first world lightest saw ever- at only 25 pounds. This saw was known as Model 3-25.
1964: Stihl makes an anti-vibration handle which utilizes buffer elements to absorb all the vibrations coming from the chain and engine.
1973: Husqvarna designs an automatic chain break- a lever that helps stop the chain in the event of the dangerous kickback.
1980: Husqvarna introduces the 40 whose crankshaft was made of lightweight materials.
1983: Again, Husqvarna introduces the 154 that features multiple plastic parts.
2011: Stihl introduces its MSA 160 C-BQ lithium-ion chainsaw which can run for up to 35 minutes!
2011: Still in the same year, Stihl introduces Wood Boss which can slice, dice, and produces roughly 50% fewer emissions.
Ever wondered what the first chainsaw as like? Well, now you’ve got an answer after reading the above post. From what we’ve discussed, it’s evident that the development of the chainsaw has come a long way. It’s through all these stages that we enjoy the great diversity of the modern chainsaws which are highly mobile, electric/gas powered, which run on small engines.