A chainsaw is a mechanical device used to prune or remove trees and associated vegetation, although some chainsaws are designed to cut other materials. The device is made up of a cutting chain on a track that is driven by a gasoline or electric engine. When the clutch is engaged the chain rotates around the track and cuts through the wood. The chain contains “teeth” which are for cutting and, when they are sufficiently sharpened, also reduce the required operator force. Before the invention of the chainsaw an axe and/or large saw was used for similar work, but these tools were very labor intensive.
Who invented the chainsaw?
Surprisingly, the prototype of the first chainsaw was not invented for tree cutting, but rather for the medical industry. Doctors John Aitken and James Jeffray both invented a device for cutting bone around the late 1700’s. In the 1830’s German doctor Bernard Heine created a hand cranked osteotome, which was also used as a bone saw. However, the modern powered chainsaw wasn’t invented until the 1920’s. Andreas Stihl, founder of the famous company with the same name, developed and was granted a patent for an electric chainsaw in 1926. A year later Emil Lerp produced the first gasoline powered chainsaw and started the company Dolmar to mass produce this model. Stihl produced a gasoline powered model in 1929 and also began to mass produce them.
One of the most important inventions in relation to the modern chainsaw was the chipper chain with alternating teeth. This was invented by Joseph Cox and today almost every chainsaw uses this design!
Did you know?
Chainsaw design has come a long way since the early designs. Andreas Stihl’s original electric chainsaw weighed in at a massive 63 kg (140 lbs). Lerp’s gasoline model, known as the “type A” saw, weighed in at 56 kg (125 lbs) and could only be operated by two men!