Surprisingly, chainsaws were first used in the medical industry. Yes, that’s right! The “weapon” preferred in today’s horror movies was initially one of the instruments used during childbirth. It was utilized in a symphysiotomy – a method that ensures quick delivery of a child from a woman’s womb.
Since we are in about chainsaw history, why not have a brief look at the procedure? Just like a wire saw, the chainsaw had a long chain with ‘teeth.’ The doctor would wrap the chain around the pelvic bone then alternately pull both handles. This movement sliced through the symphysis a lot faster than an ordinary knife.
Anyway, I assume you are here because of the chainsaws you have seen cut down trees. So let’s get down to it!
Evolution of Chainsaws
Let us travel back in time to the 19th-century when experts started adding some modifications to the already existing chainsaws. Many have claimed to be the inventors of the first chainsaw, but Bernard Heine’s invention of the 1830s predates them. However, this osteotomeman was not as advanced as the ones that came into existence years later.
Samuel J. Bens claimed a patent for “the endless chainsaw” in 1905 before James Shand came up with a portable chainsaw 13 years later. Unlike what you see today, “portable” at the time referred to a two-person operated chainsaw.
Andreas Stihl, a German, was granted a patent for the first electric chainsaw in 1926. This is arguably the time when modern chainsaws were first invented. Andreas Stihl’s machine weighed more than 140 pounds. Yes, that is approximately 20,317 tea bags… Don’t mind me; I love tea!
Do you have a high-end chainsaw (22 lbs.)? Imagine having to lift seven of them. As such, it would also require two people to operate this electric chainsaw. Well, you wouldn’t really blame our grandparents’ slow adoption of this machine, would you?
A year later (1927) Emil Lerp joined his fellow countryman in the invention process. Lerp came up with a gasoline-powered but was faced with multiple problems. Maybe the fact that it required two operators due to its weight of 125 lbs was another issue. But the Father of the Modern Chainsaw was there to make things right. Stihl made improvements to the gasoline-powered chainsaw – he named it the tree-felling machine – and patented it in 1929.
There you have it, Andreas Stihl was the inventor of what Old House Salvage know today as the modern chainsaw. So who exactly was Andreas Stihl?
Who was Andreas Stihl?
Born in 1896, Stihl was an engineer who played a huge role in the world of chainsaws. He is often referred to as “the Father of the Modern Chainsaws.” As you can see from the history above, he is undoubtedly deserving of that name. In 1926 – the same year of his ground-breaking invention – he founded his own company.
By 1931, the company had grown to become the first European chainsaw exporting company. Its market was mostly in America and Russia. Stihl’s company was also the leading supplier of saws to the Nazis. Jonsered created the design utilized by the company today in 1954.
Stihl is run as a private entity by Andreas Stihl’s family – four children. Apart from chainsaws, Stihl also produces edgers, hand tools, protective apparel, blowers, and lubricants.
How did Oregon contribute to the evolution of chainsaws?
If you are intimately familiar with the logging industry, you must be aware of Oregon chainsaws. In as much as Stihl modernized chain saws, there were still a lot of improvements that needed to be made on the same. Some of the main problems that needed addressing at the time were portability and kickback.
What is kickback? Well, this is probably one of the leading causes of chainsaw-related injuries. It might be due to the tip of the chain touching an object. Sometimes it occurs when the wood pinches the saw chain. The consequence of this is what can be very dangerous to the operator. It may lead to a lightning-first reaction that kicks the guide bar forward and back towards the user. If the operator is not able to control it, he will most likely end up with a severe cut.
Charles Wolf and Redman were the first teams to address the issue of portability. They would go on to patent the world’s first portable chainsaw in 1920. Redman would work towards reducing the weight of the power source while Charles dealt with the cutting chain. As stated earlier, all chainsaw’s at the time required two men to operate. By late 1920s, Stihl had become their biggest competitor, who also went on to manufacture a saw that weighed only 46 lbs.
In the late 1960s, Oregon joined the rest of the chainsaw world in researching how to reduce kickback hazards. After the development of kickback test machines in 1972, the company started producing kickback-tested products. The first batches to be produced were the 91 and the 76 series released in 1974 and 1976 respectively. The role of the Oregon engineers in the creation of the 1981 ANSI B175.1 safety standards will always be appreciated.
The importance of chainsaw invention proved to be a game-changer in the world of logging. We appreciate the work done by the likes of Andreas Stihl, Charles Wolf, Emil Lerp, and any other person involved in the improvement of these machines. Although there haven’t been significant changes over the past few decades, you can expect some more innovations in the near future. A new beginning might be upon us with two engineers looking to come up with a chainsaw powered by a jet engine turbine. Follow our blog for more updates on the same.
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