The History of Chainsaws

This should be easy, right?  Just stick a chain on a bar, power it with a motor, and chop a tree down!  In reality, it has taken decades of development and innovation to get to the chainsaw we see today.

The history of the modern chainsaw is convoluted and incredible.  It took expertise, brilliance, tedious work, and immense attention to detail, for the invention of this indispensable tool—the coveted staple of every arborist, and other laborers; which eliminates the need for axes—an outdated and tiresome undertaking!

In the year 1830, loggers in California made the first attempt to invent a wooden chainsaw. They considered it more an experiment, than a marketable investment.

Not much detail about these loggers has been recorded, though their efforts were documented. These wooden chainsaws were burdensome and not particularly dependable.

Before we go any further, it’s important to understand that as chainsaw technology developed, so did safety gear.  We should consider the protection and safety aspects we would like to adhere to when we operate, own, borrow, or store a chainsaw. There are about a million possibilities and hazards of utilizing this essential machine, as well as the amazing benefits and ease it provides when properly managed!

There are several things to consider; the following are precautions that everyone should take to be able to safely use a chainsaw.  Many people are users, so if you educate yourself there’s no reason the be afraid.

For me it’s like the preparation for having a stove in your home; owning a car; lighting a fireplace; firing up your barbecue grill; and the list can be as long as we wish.  The reality is, precision and care can be the focus while we operate the chainsaw.


  • The first thing we should think about is the fact that we can be injured, harshly or mildly; neither is a pleasant experience.
  • Objects in your space, like chips of wood, leaves, or other debris may whizz around during your operation, and be harmful in several ways.
  • The severe vibration from the saw handle may case physical injuries to your nerves, muscles, limbs, and other biological aspects of your body, specifically your ears.
  • Protecting your hearing is highly recommended; using ear muffs, or ear plugs.
  • A heavy chainsaw may cause injury to your back; caution should be taken to use a size that fits your physical needs.

We should all try to protect ourselves, so we can be efficient and (possibly) even enjoy the arborist experience.  Let’s wear the right protective equipment. Here are some guidelines:


  • Wearing goggles or a shield to protect your eyes  in the best way possible.
  • Wearing gloves will decrease the vibration to your hands.
  • Ear plugs and muffs will protect your hearing.
  • Hard hats are not a bad idea, depending on where you’re at and what you’re cutting.
  • Wear chaps, leather leggings worn over trousers
  • The best boots or steel toed shoes you can find. (Note: I prefer waterproof)

Note:  Never use a saw with a dull blade.


  • Check and sharpen chain teeth
  • Check ignition, brake, bolts, handles, cover of the clutch
  • Add fuel at least 10 feet away from anything that could cause the fuel to ignite


As we operate the saw, preparing to crank it up, nothing should get in the way—so, the first thing we must do is:

  • Clear the pathway of any obstruction or hindrances that impede our progress.
  • Trained workers should supervise inexperienced workers who are felling trees.
  • Firmly keep hands on handles and make sure footing is secure.
  • Never carry the saw on your shoulder; the blade is next to your neck if you fall.
  • Be constantly aware of your co-workers; working at a safe distance from them (approximately twice the height of the trees).
  • Check for loosely hanging branches and tree limbs.
  • Avoid cutting with the tip of the chainsaw; keep a close eye on the tip of the saw.
  • It is strongly suggested that the throttle be shut off, or released before withdrawing, or retiring, while carrying the chainsaw more than 50 feet, or over dangerous regions.
  • Too tired workers tend to make mistakes, so be mindful of taking your breaks.

Reference Link:


  • Using the right fuel is paramount to effective operation of a chain saw
  • Frequently check the bar and chain oil level
  • File the chain teeth often
  • Sharpen the cutting teeth
  • Frequently file depth gauges
  • Replace worn out cutting tooth if less than 4mm
  • Keep chain lubrication up to date
  • Tighten loose bolts, nuts, and screws
  • Basic engine maintenance like air filters, spark plugs



Numerous foreign manufacturers, around the middle twenties, have staked their claims in advertisements, for the invention of the chainsaw; and followed with similar inventions.  Somehow their declarations always pointed back to the Bernie Heine chainsaw.

March 16, 1918 edition of the Scientific American highlighted a picture of a chainsaw, on the cover.  The design was apparently of German origin and showcased a gasoline engine distinct from the saw element.


1785:  The Medical Bone Chainsaw

Although clearly not used for wood, this was alleged to be the first chainsaw from late in the 18th Century, engineered by two Scottish doctors:  John Aitken and James Jeffray. The fine serrated edges were used for the excision of diseased bone; and to remove cartilage that held the pelvis together. Continue reading “The History of Chainsaws”

Most Popular Chainsaw Brands of 2018

I am frequently asked what the most popular chainsaw brands are.

There is a group called OPEI (Outdoor Power Equipment Institute) that periodically reports industry data like this.

Instead of teasing you and making you wait, how about if I present the data in tabular form, and then we can discuss the details? Here we go:

2018 Chainsaw Market Share by Brand

BrandMarket Share
Poulan Pro10.0
Black & Decker7.1
Other/ Don't Know24.0

Before we go through each of the data points, let’s talk about where the data came from. Continue reading “Most Popular Chainsaw Brands of 2018”