The History of the Chainsaw
PM '09

The First Chainsaws There are many different reports on when the first chainsaw or gas powered saw was invented. One article on the matter claims that the osteotome, invented around he 1830's,was the first chainsaw. The osteotome was invented by the German Bernard Heine and had small cutting teeth with angled edges linked by a long chain that was moved by turning a wheel. Other early chainsaw-type tools included a saw that moved back and forth when cranked and another called "the American riding machine" which resembled a rowing machine with cutters on it.

The first gas powered chainsaw however was thought to have been made in about 1926, but an issue of timberman magazine in 1949 revealed that the first one may have been created much earlier. The article reports that the first experiment with a gas powered saw was made in Sequoia park in Eureka, California. The saw was driven by a two cylinder, water cooled, marine type motor set at 90 degrees from its normal position. The machine sawed through a ten-foot log in 4.5 minutes. More evidence that the chainsaw predated the 1920's is a 1918 issue of Scientific American with a large gas powered chainsaw on the cover. In 1926, the German engineer Andreas Stihl, invented the "Cutoff chainsaw for electric power", the first electric chainsaw. The first chainsaw was built the same year as Stihl founded a steam boiler company. This was publicly accepted as the "First" real chainsaw. It was also the first mobile chainsaw.

The modern chainsaw is a mobile gas powered tool that can run on a small engine. This type of chainsaw was invented by inventor Joseph Buford Cox who was an experience operator of chainsaws. He invented the modern chainsaw by "upgrading" Mr. Stihl's creation to make it more lightweight. Then in 1972, Atom Industries manufactured their own types of chainsaws including some with self-cleaning or electronically ignited features.

Return to 7th Grade Inventions Main Page