There are many misconceptions and myths about the inventions made in the past, especially those which were related to execution and death during the ancient period. Out of many, one such invention was the Chainsaw. 

What’s Chainsaw?

Chainsaw is a cutting tool which has teeth on its edge to make the cut deep and there’s a chain attached to these teeth to help in a continuous series of these deep cuts so that any object can be cut properly.

Chainsaw and its parts’ description for beginners

It is perhaps the most iconic and powerful tool out there. 

Although you might have seen it to be commonly used as a form of weaponry in movies and video games, not everything you see on television is true and that’s probably the main reason why there are so many misconceptions surrounding them!

These days we just see these saws in the hands of woodcutters, but this is not why the chainsaws were made. 

There are a lot of facts about chains that may surprise the average person. So, if you are also curious, here is everything you need to know about it—

Who Invented the Chainsaw?

It was actually two surgeons named John Aitken and James Jeffray in Scotland that created the first chainsaw, way back in 1780.

Talking about these Scottish surgeons, let us tell you that Jeffray was a Professor of anatomy and botany at Glasgow University for 58 years. He published Cases of the Excision of Carious Joints in 1806, which was a collection of works in which he discussed the invention of the chainsaw. 

Talking about these Scottish surgeons, let us tell you that Jeffray was a Professor of anatomy and botany at Glasgow University for 58 years. He published Cases of the Excision of Carious Joints in 1806, which was a collection of works in which he discussed the invention of the chainsaw. 

On the other hand, Dr. Aitken’s partner in invention with Dr. Jeffrey— is known to have made some practical improvements within surgery, including devising the chainsaw.

Coming back to the point, here the question arises—why exactly was this risky tool invented in the first place?

People have been obsessing over the origins of the chainsaw ever since TikTok user hellomynamesjon shared a video saying it was first invented to help with childbirth, which sounds more than a little terrifying.

So, let’s see –what were the circumstances that led to the invention of the chainsaw!

Why Were Chainsaws Invented?

Some users search on the internet ‘were chainsaws invented to help with childbirth?’ while others try to find ‘why were chainsaws invented fact check?’ 

But, the reality is that this demonic device was actually invented to help with the process of childbirth in order to bring babies into the world safely.

Wonder how?

Let’s answer this – in the early 18th century, all babies had to pass through the birth canal and C-sections surgery (which is now very common) was rarely used.

But, because some women have very little space in their pelvic bones, when babies cannot fit or become stuck in the pelvis during childbirth— the only option at that time was to cut the pelvic bone. 

However, the bones inside our bodies are one of the densest objects and cutting them properly was next to impossible with ancient tools. So, because there were no precision instruments available at that time, the procedure of cutting pelvic bone was used to be done with a small knife.

In the process, these bones were sometimes used to be broken, and all this happened without the women being given anesthesia. 

So can you imagine how much pain a woman has to go through to give birth to a child? Not really because this was more terrific than you can imagine while reading this article.

This is why, as stated above, in 1780, Dr. John Aitken and Dr. James Jaffray invented a tool called chainsaw that originally looked more like a modern-day kitchen knife. 

Original Chainsaw looked more like a modern-day kitchen knife

For many years, chainsaws were used to cut the pelvic bone precisely. However, after a few years, it was being used to amputate and study the bones and its structure by the Anatomists. To this date, chainsaws are being used for many medical surgeries related to bones named symphysiotomy

Chainsaw used for many medical surgeries related to bones especially symphysiotomy

A: Symphysiotomy was a procedure performed on pregnant women during birth in place of caesarean section which is now the modern practice.

This surgery involves cutting the cartilage and ligaments of the pelvic joint to simply widen it, so that the child can pass through it without any obstruction.

Symphysiotomy was used as a common procedure in the treatment of obstructed labor since 1597, but became less frequent in the late 20th century for two main reasons:

  • Firstly, because of the high risk of bladder injury, infection, pain, and prolonged walking difficulty.
  • Secondly, because of the reduction in the risk of maternal death from caesarean section due to improvements in technique and hygiene.
  • Hence, for those who ask ‘what was the original use of a Chainsaw’— we can conclude that the chainsaw was originally used to cut the pelvic bone and for medical uses. 

    Were The Chainsaws Invented To Help With Childbirth?

    This seems contradictory to many and hard to believe that these monstrous devices were used to help doctors to give life to babies and not to kill someone. 

    Before the invention of C section tools and suction devices, childbirth used to happen with the help of Chainsaws by removing or breaking the pelvic bone with chainsaws which were called as symphysiotomy as we discussed above. 

    And since this whole process is too painful to bear for everyone, symphysiotomy was made illegal and doctors were advised to use other non-painful methods using more scientific tools. 

    So, if this question, ‘were chainsaws invented to help with childbirth?’ comes to your mind then you know the answer.

    When Was The Gas-Operated Chainsaw Invented?

    Gas-operated Chainsaw

    Chainsaws have traveled a long distance to get the modern form. 

    The fundamental chainsaws that were used for symphysiotomy were just knife-sized with a chain having teeth, later the size of the chainsaw increased when these were used for amputation and these chainsaws got a mechanical tool to rotate the chain with a handle manually. 

    After the invention of the motor, these chainsaws were operated with a motor that helps in rotating the chain. But this had its own demerits that you can only operate these chainsaws where electricity was available but when these devices were used by the woodcutters who had to work in forests where there is no electricity to operate these, in 1927 gas-powered chainsaws were invented. 

    And after that, this chainsaw is being used mainly to help people in different fields. It reduces the man force and increases the efficiency many-fold.

    To Recapitulate 

    Earlier, before the common use of caesarean section in the process of childbirth, a baby had to pass through the birth canal. But, if a baby was not able to pass through the birth canal or was stuck in the pelvis then, parts of the pelvic bone and cartilage would be removed, to make more room for the baby to pass through and out.

    This particular surgery called a “symphysiotomy” was previously used to be performed with a small knife which was very messy and painful. Therefore, in 1780, two doctors invented the “Chainsaw” to make it easier and less time-consuming to remove the pelvis. 

    First appeared in the late 18th century, Chainsaws were invented for use in medical procedures. Soon, it was used for other bone cutting operations and amputations in the surgical room. Later on, it evolved into a woodworking tool and eventually grew to be the monster we know today.

    Therefore, you can say that chainsaws were originally invented to help with childbirth and not to cut wood. 

    So, it was all about the journey that a chainsaw has covered to reach your hand to help you in many ways. Surely, after reading this article, next time when you see a chainsaw you know what this device was made for and how it was being used by our ancestors.