June 2019

Chainsaw-History Chainsaw-History

When you think about the modern day chainsaw, there is a good chance that you think about easily slicing through trees, bushes and essentially anything that you put the saw too.  However, there is a good chance that you have no clue about the rich history that the chainsaw actually has.

Originally designed and developed in the early 1920’s, the motorized chainsaw was originally created to help increase the amount of timber production that workers were able to provide.  When compared to the non-motorized saw, the chainsaw was a much faster, more efficient tool in getting the same exact job done.  And on top of that, it was also much cheaper than having workers saw by hand.  You can think of it as the first non-motorized saw taking the place of an axe.  That is exactly what happened when the motorized chainsaw was developed and introduced.

Chainsaw History

The history of people working within the forest runs just about parallel to that of the human race being alive.  For hundreds and thousands of years, the forest would be directly linked to the problems, development, and even evolution of the human civilization.  Over time, that dark and threatening forest that people were scared to venture into would eventually become the number one timber supplier of all time.

Essentially, the forest was finally tamed, meaning that in today’s day and age, it is not just an important economical factor, but is also considered a source of many different functions, some of which include recreation, as well as protection.

For the past several hundred years, the job of lumberjack was known as one of the lowliest, putting those involved at the very bottom of any social ladder.  However, that would all change when the modern day chainsaw was introduced to them.  I fact, the chainsaw would single handedly improve all of the social prestige that lumberjacks would experience, as well as their own self-esteem.  The chainsaw would essentially turn a lowly lumber worker, into a modern day, respected machine operator and lumber specialist.

From Axe to Saw

If you look back into the history of humans and forests, you will notice that the axe is the oldest and most traditional wood cutting tool in history.  The use of the axe actually reaches so far back in human history that it was originally formed out of stone, bronze, iron, and copper, will reflect exactly how important it really was no matter what culture you were in.  As if that weren’t enough, the axe would actually be the most important and widely used tool in the entire world for cutting trees, all the way up until the 19th century.

Looking for a more efficient way to cut lumbar, a Germanic tribe would invent the first saw in history around the year 5000 B.C.  They did this by creating small sized teeth into a flint that was shaped in a half moon.  While there is no way of knowing whether or not these particular saws were actually used to cut down trees or other varieties of wood, they were still the very fist saws in human history.

Later on when copper was discovered, it would take the place of any stones or rocks, having bronze take their place.  These saws and axes would be used to cut trees and other types of wood.  Then around the year 750 B.C., iron would eventually replace the bronze that was previously used, but bronze would still be the main metal for saws for many more centuries to come.  With that being said, just know that the bronze versions were not used so much in cutting down trees, but rather by doctors, surgeons, and artisans.

While there is no official proof that that saws were actually used in any type of forestry work, saw mills did exist and were notorious for cutting tree trunks into smaller planks.  In fact, around the year 1500, Leonardo da Vinci would also spend a little bit of time with saws, sketching the very first saw that was used by pushing and pulling.  Before then, saws would either be pushed (as was considered to be the European style) or by pulling (as was considered to be the Asian style).

The Introduction of the Motorized Saw

Motorized Saw

With saws being used throughout history, it would not be until the 1920’s that someone would eventually invent the modern day chainsaw.  While there are three main chainsaw producers (Wolf, Westfelt, and Stihl), the latter would become the largest chainsaw producer on the entire planet.

In the beginning days of the chainsaw, the original intent was to make doing forestry work much easier as well as much more productive.  When you combine these things, you are going to also have an increase in profit.  The major developments when it comes to the chainsaw look like this:

  • 1926:  The German company Stihl develops the very first electro-chainsaw
  • 1927:  The first petrol-based chain saw was developed by Dolmar
  • 1950:  The creation of he very first one-man chainsaw
  • 1964:  The introduction of the first ant vibration system
  • 1972:  The introduction of the chain brake
  • 1982:  The automatic chain brake (quick stop) is introduced
  • 1989:  The catalyzer is introduced
  • 1991:  Automatic start is added

Working with a Chainsaw

Working with a Chainsaw

There is no doubt about the fact that when you are working with a chainsaw, you are going to be in some type of danger.  Chainsaws are just dangerous.  In fact, there is actually one accident for every 1100m of wood that is worked.  When using a chainsaw, your most exposed body parts are going to be you left leg, as well as your left arm.  With that being said, just know that the number one cause of chainsaw accidents is going to be the chainsaw’s kickback, which is considered to be a sudden rising of the chainsaw when the chain and nose of the saw meet the wood that is meant to be cut at a precise angle.  The next leading cause of chainsaw injury can be summed up to stumbling while operating the machine.

The chainsaw has been a pivotal tool when it comes to helping cut down trees and other types of wood.  Without the invention of the chainsaw, there is no telling the effect that not having this amazing machine would have on the world.

By Old House Salvage – OHS