Who Invented the Chainsaw?

The question of who invented anything is usually complicated. Most objects, trends, and ideas throughout history have been influenced by many different people and many different factors. For instance, the chain handsaw model itself dates back to around 1785 in John Aitken’s Principles of Midwifery, or Puerperal Medicine. This model was created for the sake of removing diseased bone in an era where specialized medical bone saws were still being developed.

In 1926, in an era where mass production was becoming more common, Andreas Stihl patented two-person saws. The first model weighed one hundred and sixteen pounds, and it was powered using electricity. The second one was created in 1929. It weighed one hundred thirty-nine pounds and was powered by gas. While these chainsaws are very different from their modern equivalents, they managed to set a lot of important precedents.

These original two chainsaw models made it to the United States in 1941 after American troops brought them back from Europe during World War Two. World War Two was a time period in which a lot of technological development occurred in a wide range of different fields, including chainsaws. The chainsaws that people used in the early 1940’s needed to be operated by two people, rode on wheels, and were extremely heavy and cumbersome.

By the middle of the 1940’s, saws that could actually be operated individually were created. The forged steel parts and aluminum alloys that were developed during the war led to the creation of chainsaws that were much more similar to modern chainsaws in terms of their operation and their uses. There is no one clear inventor of this relatively modern version of the chainsaw, however. The modern chainsaw was the product of a particular time and place.

However, a new advance in chainsaws occurred in 1947, courtesy of Joseph Buford Cox. He created the Cox Chipper Chain. Interestingly enough, he was actually inspired by the habits of timber beetle larvae and their interactions with the wood grain while they chew. By 1949, the McCulloch Motors Corp. introduced the 25-pound Model 3-25. This was the lightest chainsaw that the world had ever seen by this point.

The anti-vibration handle was introduced in 1964, which made chainsaws easier and more efficient to use. The automatic chain break was invented in 1973 by Husqvarna, thus making chainsaws significantly safer and more practical for anyone to use. These inventions helped to make chainsaws the sorts of power tools that people would find in almost anyone’s garage. They became practical enough for common use. The use of chainsaws became more popular in the 1970’s.

Many of the advances in chainsaws between the 1970’s and now have involved making chainsaws even safer, making them more environmentally friendly by reducing their emissions, and by making the parts lighter and more efficient. Once again, the development of all of these changes and advancements has very much been a group effort, with no clear inventor and no single individual who had a dream. However, seeing the catalog of people and events that influenced the development of chainsaws is always interesting.

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