Typically, when anyone hears chainsaws, you automatically think about the long electrical device used to cut trees and used as a killing tool in horror movies.
However, why were chainsaws invented? The reason behind it will not only surprise you but put you in a terror state (though it’s not as bad as it sounds real!).
The real reason why chainsaws got invented was actually for childbirth.
Yes, childbirth! And no, you are not reading it wrong!
It’s got you imagining a doctor coming out during your childbirth with an electrical chainsaw ready to cut you open, has it not?
Before your imagination goes off on a wild goose chase, carry on reading to understand the reasons behind a chain saw getting used, who created it, and much more!
Everything to Know About Chainsaws
You have to understand we are talking about a time when the Cesarean section was not in place for women.
Chainsaws were originally designed to aid in childbirth, not to cut wood.
The main reason behind the invention of a chainsaw was to help women during childbirth. Again, yes, during childbirth. Let us say a child was in a breech position, meaning the feet were down, then a chain saw would have gotten used. Or, in another scenario, if a baby was too big for the women to push out then they would use a chainsaw.
Nowadays, a doctor would perform a C-section where they make a precision on the abdomen to take the baby out in such situations, but those times, C-section was not in play yet.
In those times, a doctor would use a saw or a knife to cut through the pelvic bone to help with childbirth. Just imagine, how time-consuming and painful the whole process would have been. Remember, anesthesia was not popular or invented at that time either.
It sends a chill down your spine, does it not?
This whole procedure was called “symphysiotomy.”
So, if a baby was too large or there was a breach, or it became obstructed, they would remove a part of the pelvis bone or cartridge to make space for the baby. It sounds painful just to read about it.
Remember before a chainsaw got created for this purpose, they did it with a ‘saw or a knife.’
The chainsaw is now only used for wood cutting, not for medical procedures.
- If a kid was too big to carry through the birth canal before Cesarean sections, parts of the pelvis were removed.
- The treatment was routinely carried out using a tiny knife, which was both messy and painful.
- Two doctors invented the chainsaw in 1780 to make the removal process quicker and faster.
- Hand cranks were used to power the first chainsaws.
So, who invented chainsaws?
Now, we know why chainsaws got invented, but wouldn’t you want to know how the advancement got made from ‘saws and knives to chain saw?
Two Scottish doctors, John Aitken and James Jeffray invented the chainsaw in the 1780s.
These two surgeons attended Glasgow University and Edinburgh University and were known for dissecting people who would get executed for murder.
Doesn’t it make you think, two male doctors working on already dead bodies would have thought a chainsaw is a great idea to use without anesthesia during childbirth?
Anyways, both of these surgeons made some ‘practical’ improvements in surgery, like a chainsaw.
The procedure would get defined as “butchering” by women who had this used for the procedure mentioned above.
They would use chainsaws during childbirth when:
- The baby was in a breech position
- The baby’s shoulder got stuck, as it was too large
- The baby’s head fails to come out through the birth canal
However, afterward, they did discover how they would use the chainsaw for other procedures also like:
- To cut a diseased bone
- Cutting an infected flesh
- Amputating a limp
So, these two doctors created a chainsaw powered by a hand crank and designed like a compact kitchen knife with tiny sharp teeth ends all around on a chain in an oval shape. If you see the pictures, it was much smaller and compact than the modern-day chainsaw.
You would think that is the end, but it got enhanced further.
As things do, the chainsaw used for surgery further got upgraded by Bernhard Heine in the 1830s. That would also get used for surgery.
However, he called it the Osteitome, a Greek word translating to the bone cutter. Yes, simply a bone-cutter, as that was it was!
First Pictures Of Chainsaws Used For Childbirth
The Osteotome, original one! (https://allthatsinteresting.com/symphysiotomy)
Do they not look like something you would use to actually ‘butcher’ someone? Is it not daunting just to think about?
We can admit to one thing, the chainsaw back then did have a surgical tool look to it. However, many people would avoid it. It did get done without anesthesia.
So, you think, how the hell does such a device become popular?
Well, once the anesthetic got designed in the 19th century, people automatically made the chainsaw a popular surgical tool.
Moreover, it did get phased out after the Gigli twisted wire saw. This tool soon became a common pocket device for many medical professionals.
No matter, the chainsaw got used as a medical tool for more than 100 years. You wouldn’t think so, but that is how long it took them to come out with a less scary and safer surgery option for pregnant women.
(Gigli Wire Saw, mainly used for smooth bone cuts!)
C-section Replacing Chainsaws
You, reading this, by this point, is probably more grateful than ever for C-section and whoever came up with this concept.
There have been records of cesareans early in history, but they were not successful and would kill the mother. Nonetheless, the first cesarean section recorded to be successful happened in 1794. Jesse Benett was the one. He gave his pregnant wife laudanum- a sleeping type medicine-and performed the procedure on his wife at home. Moreover, before he closed the wound, he took both ovaries out as he stated, he would not want to get subjected to such an ordeal ever again.”
It was a very weird time because if anyone would have performed a successful surgery like that, they would have screamed at the top of their lungs, letting the world know? However, in the case of Dr. Bennett, he did not share the news, as he got scared he would be made fun of and thought people would call him a liar.
No matter, C-sections become popular over the 19th century but were still considered high-risk until the 20th century.
20th Century Chainsaw
It took people years to finally realize that the chainsaw has many other uses.
The first electrical chainsaw got created in 1926 by Andreas Stihl, who went on to sell the patent. The electrical chainsaw he created was not small and easy to use; it actually required two people to operate it.
The chainsaw further got improved more after the Second World War because of the enhancement in aluminum and the engine design making this lighter.
Nowadays, you can buy chainsaws in many sizes for many uses around the house and garden. Do you or someone you know own a chainsaw?
Did you ever think the reason behind the invention of a chainsaw was for childbirth?
Thankfully, the use of a chainsaw is now changed, and the “symphysiotomy” came to an end. Nonetheless, there are some third-world countries that do not have C-section tools or places that still perform this procedure. You would not expect that, but that is what it is.
Now, would you have ever guessed that this was the reason for the chainsaw getting invented? Do you think you would have let doctors do this procedure on you?
Why was the chainsaw invented meme?
The room is dark and quiet. A meme has gone viral showing people's reactions when they learn why chainsaws were made, and a video on TikTok claims chainsaws were first invented to aid in childbirth. So, if you've come here because you want to know the answer, you're about to learn it.
Why Were Chainsaws Invented?
In 1780, two doctors invented the chainsaw to make the removal of pelvic bone during childbirth easier and faster. It was operated by a hand crank and looked a modern-day kitchen knife, with small teeth on an oval-wrapped chain.
When was the 1st chainsaw invented?
In 1830, German orthopaedist Bernhard Heine invented the first chainsaw. He named it the osteotome, which comes from the Greek words osteo (bone) and tome or tomi (cut) and means "bonecutter." This chainsaw, like many others before it, was utilized for medical purposes.
What was a chainsaw used for?
A chainsaw (or chain saw) is a portable saw that cuts with a set of teeth attached to a spinning chain operated along a guide bar. It's used for tree felling, limbing, bucking, trimming, cutting firebreaks in wildland fire suppression, and harvesting firewood, among other things.