Why Were Chainsaws Invented? The Horrifying Facts

A chainsaw is a large device primarily used to cut trees; it has sharp teeth attached to a chain that continuously moves around a metal platform. But tree cutting and such complex jobs were not the purposes behind the invention of a chainsaw.

You might have heard about the ‘why were chainsaws invented joke’ that it was invented as a childbirth tool. But that is not a joke; it’s reality.

The question that strikes our mind is why chainsaws were invented for childbirth. It was hard in the early days to save the mother and the baby when natural birth got out of the question. That’s why a chainsaw was invented to ease the procedure. This article lets us know the invention and evolution of chainsaws over the years.

Reasons Why Were Chainsaws Invented?

The first chainsaw was invented as a tool for childbirth. Isn’t it horrifying? Let’s see how the chainsaw evolved over the years.

The Original Use of Chainsaw

In the 1700s, it was sometimes impossible to save both the mother and the baby during childbirth. The doctors used to do a process called symphysiotomy in case a normal delivery became impossible. In this process, the birth canal was widened to take the baby out through the vagina. The doctors used a sharp knife for this procedure, which was very brutal and painful.

Two Scottish doctors, John Aitken and James Jeffray introduced a tool to cut the pelvis in 1780. That tool had a rotating blade. It was something that we call a chainsaw now. But that chain saw was different from the one we use these days. So what did the first chainsaw look like? It was not so big but the size of a big knife.

It was a more helpful tool to cut the pelvis than a sharp knife, but the procedure was dangerous and tricky; not every doctor could do that. Also, the cost to save the lives of the mother and baby with that method was forever-lasting effects on the mother’s body. The mothers could not walk after childbirth with the symphysiotomy process, which also had other consequences.

Another horrific fact of the symphysiotomy birth process is that it was done without anesthesia, and sometimes it also involved cutting bones. However, after some time, anesthesia was introduced in this procedure. It became a widespread birth procedure with the involvement of anesthesia.

Later, the Cesarean section birth procedure took over chainsaw birth symphysiotomy involving a small abdominal incision instead of butchering the pelvis.

The Invention of the Bone Saw

A boy from a medical family, Bernhard Heine, who studied under an orthopedic, Johann Heine, made a new invention. Bernhard Heine studied medicine and orthopedic surgery and revolutionized his field. In 1830, he invented a tool called osteotome, which is most commonly known as the bone saw.

It was a hand-operated saw with a crank handle that orthopedics used to cut hard bones. It was the size of a kitchen knife with sharp blades on a chain wrapped on a metal surface. Bernhard Heine won a prestigious award in France for his invention. Also, he was invited to Russia for a practical demonstration of his invention.

This bone saw was used in many surgical procedures. It was also used in skull surgery but with added guards around the edges to protect tissues.

The Use of Chainsaw to Cut Trees

Samuel J. Beans discovered the use of chainsaws to cut trees in 1907. He filed his patent for making chainsaws, a wood-cutting tool to take down trees and cut firewood or hedges. After that, James Shand worked on chainsaws in 1918.

The Launch of Electric Chainsaw

1926 was the year when Andreas Stihl launched the first electric chainsaw. Andreas Stihl was the owner of Stihl company. The first electric chainsaw that came to the market in 1926 was 105 pounds. Two people were required to operate it. Read Also: 5 Best Electric Chainsaws in Australia – Complete Buyer Guide.

The Launch of Gas Chainsaw

Andreas Stihl brought the gas chainsaw to the market in 1929. It was named the Tree Felling Machine. The first gas chainsaw was 101 pounds and required two people to operate it. Read Also: Electric VS Gas Chainsaws Australia: The Differences You Need to Know

Emil Lerp also invented the gas chainsaw in 1926 and claimed to be the first to invent it. However, Stihl company is more famous for being the founder of gas chainsaws.

The Launch of Portable Chainsaw

The portable chain saw that one person could operate was invented in 1935 by the Dolmar chainsaws company. It was a portable electric chainsaw named DB 35. Furthermore, the Dolmar company invented the portable gas chainsaw in 1952. Read Also: Best Battery Powered Chainsaws Australia – Top Buying Guides

Following are the answers to most of your frequently asked questions regarding the invention of chainsaws.


The chainsaw invented in 1780 was used to cut the pelvis during childbirth and widen the birth canal when normal delivery was impossible.

The use of chainsaws for childbirth was stopped in the 19th century, and new methods were adopted.

Two Scottish doctors, John Aitken and James Jeffray invented the chainsaw for childbirth in 1780.

The chainsaw was originally called the osteotome.

The first chainsaw was the size of a kitchen knife with tiny teeth on a chain with a metal platform. There was a crank handle to operate this saw.

The use of chainsaws for childbirth was stopped in the 19th century, and new methods were adopted.

The gas-powered chainsaw was invented in 1929 by Andreas Stihl and his team under the Stihl company.

Symphysiotomy was a procedure used during childbirth. It was before the caesarian section came into practice. Doctors used chainsaws to cut the pelvis to make room for childbirth in symphysiotomy.

Samuel J. Banes was the founder of wood-cutting chainsaws and introduced the chainsaws to the market in 1907.

The chainsaws are now limited to cutting trees and likely jobs; they are now not used for childbirth.

Modern medical science has better equipment and does not use chainsaws for medical procedures.


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