Why Chainsaws Were Invented: A Look into the Surprising History

Chainsaws are now a staple of modern life, used for cutting wood and other materials. But did you know that their original purpose was actually quite different? Chainsaws weren’t initially invented for woodcutting; they were first developed to tackle a completely different task. So, the next time you pick up a chainsaw, remember its remarkable history.

Why Chainsaws Were Invented

Why Chainsaws Were Invented: The Surprising Beginnings of Chainsaws

Chainsaws have been around for centuries, but their use wasn’t widely known until the late 18th century. It was then that two Scottish doctors, John Aitken and James Jeffray, created a flexible saw with a serrated link chain held between two wooden handles to aid in symphysiotomy and bone excision. Their invention sparked a revolution in saw technology and led to the development of what we know today as the chainsaw.

Beginnings Of Chainsaws

Fast forward to the 1830s, and German orthopaedist Bernhard Heine created the earliest version of the chainsaw. His invention was designed to help with symphysiotomy, a difficult surgical procedure that involved cutting through the pelvic bone to widen the birth canal and make childbirth easier.

German orthopaedist Bernhard Heine
soruce: wikipedia

The invention of chainsaws has revolutionized the way we use saws, from making quick work of cutting firewood to making complex surgical procedures easier and safer. While it is a debated topic, chainsaws have made their mark in the world of surgery and have been used ever since.

Chainsaws and Timber Industry

The introduction of chainsaws in the early 20th century changed the timber industry forever. By replacing labor-intensive and time-consuming manual saws with powerful machinery, the task of felling trees became much more efficient. Chainsaws enabled loggers to achieve the same results in a fraction of the time, allowing the industry to rapidly expand and thrive. Now, chainsaws are an indispensable tool in the timber industry, making it easier than ever to cut and manage forests.

Chainsaws And Timber Industry

Modern Chainsaws

Modern chainsaws have come a long way, offering powerful and dependable performance, while also providing a quieter and more eco-friendly option than traditional gas-powered chainsaws. Electric and battery-powered models are now commonplace, allowing users to get the job done without the need for fuel or fumes. With advancements in technology, these chainsaws are now an even better choice for homeowners and professionals alike.

Modern Chainsaws

Safety Concerns

Using a chainsaw can be a valuable tool, however, it also comes with serious safety concerns. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, chainsaws are responsible for tens of thousands of injuries each year. To minimize the risk of injury, it’s essential to receive proper training and always follow the necessary safety precautions when operating a chainsaw. Taking the time to understand how to safely use a chainsaw will ensure you get the job done safely and effectively.

Safety Concerns


The invention of the chainsaw has had a lasting impact on the timber industry. Initially developed for surgical applications, chainsaws have been adapted for wood cutting and remain a vital tool for many tasks. However, due to their powerful nature and the potential for injury, it’s important to always use them with the utmost caution and safety measures. With the right precautions, chainsaws can be a safe and reliable tool.


What was the original purpose of the chainsaw?

Chainsaws were originally invented in the late 18th century for surgical procedures, such as symphysiotomy and bone excision, to aid in childbirth and make labor easier.

Were chainsaws originally invented?

Yes, chainsaws were originally invented for surgical procedures in the late 18th century.

Were chainsaws used for childbirth?

Yes, chainsaws were used for childbirth to perform symphysiotomy, which involved cutting through the pelvic bone to widen the birth canal and make childbirth easier.