Why Were Chainsaws Invented? The Surprising History of a Gruesome Tool

Chainsaws are a common tool used for cutting down trees, pruning overgrown bushes, or even carving ice. However, many people may not know the history behind the invention of this gruesome tool.

In this article, we will explore the surprising reasons why chainsaws were invented and how they have been used throughout history.

The Original Purpose

Medical Procedures Believe it or not, chainsaws were originally invented for medical procedures, not for cutting down trees. In the 18th century, two doctors invented the chainsaw to make the removal of bone easier and less time-consuming. The original chainsaws were powered by a hand crank and resembled a large, clunky kitchen knife.

The Gruesome Reality

Childbirth and Amputations While chainsaws were originally invented for medical procedures, their use quickly expanded to other areas. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, chainsaws were used for amputations and other surgical procedures. They were also used during childbirth, specifically during a procedure known as a symphysiotomy, which involved widening the birth canal with a hand-cranked, rotating blade.

The Evolution

Forestry and Industrial Applications As technology advanced, chainsaws began to be used for forestry and industrial applications. In the 1920s, Andreas Stihl invented the first gasoline-powered chainsaw, which revolutionized the logging industry. Chainsaws continued to evolve throughout the 20th century, with new designs and features that made them more efficient and easier to use.

The Modern Use

Construction and Home Improvement Today, chainsaws are commonly used for construction and home improvement projects. They are used for cutting lumber, trimming trees, and even carving sculptures. While they may still have a gruesome reputation, chainsaws have become an essential tool in many industries.


In conclusion, chainsaws were originally invented for medical procedures, specifically for the removal of bone. They were later used for surgical procedures, including childbirth, and eventually evolved into a tool used for forestry, industrial applications, construction, and home improvement.