Chainsaws - How They Started

by:Jiali     2020-04-09
The chainsaw seems to have two social personas in western culture today. The first is its nice side. The trusty almost invaluable piece of garden equipment we use for cutting wood and stone carving artistic wooden sculptures and felling trees. The second is the sinister Hollywood version. The monstrous and sinister weapon that is used by psychopaths with uncontrollable urges to sever limbs and draw blood. Well, the strange truth is the more frightening side of the chain saw may have grown up from its own history! To try and understand when the chainsaw first came into existence you have to decide exactly what it is. It is recognised by the use of a moving chain on a metal guide used as a cutting implement. The chain has sharp teeth and is propelled around the guide by a separate energy source. Well, this may sound really gruesome but this is exactly how surgical tools were described in the early 19th century. This was a time when the good doctors knowledge of the human anatomy was greatly restricted. Practice was rarely based on real knowledge and potions were sold in place of real medicines. But perhaps most disturbing of all was the fact that there were still no anaesthetics - except for a great deal of whiskey, or a brick on the back of your head when you weren't looking. There were no proper hygiene regulations. So you can imagine the fear both the doctor and these implements produced. In the 1830's when used in surgical operations this device was actually called the 'osteotome' and was invented by a German, Bernard Heine. The name comes from Heine's specialism which was orthopaediatrics and was used for cutting bone. Of course this early version was not motorised in any way - the chain was moved around a guiding blade by turning the handle of a sprocket wheel. He did not realise it then but he had just invented the chainsaw as well and a lot more besides. There have been various claims about who invented the chainsaw we know and love so well today. In California an inventor by the name of Muir claimed to be first person to put a chain on a blade to use for logging purposes, technically inventing the first logging chainsaw. Maybe, but the problem with this new homespun gadget was it weighed hundreds of pounds and so made it commercially unusable. It disappeared from view very quickly. Other examples of early automatic logging saws were the 1861 Hamilton saw that was hand-cranked by one or two men, and looked like a spinning wheel; and the American riding saw of the 1880s that resembled a rowing machine that cutters could sit on. It was not until Andreas Stihl came along in the early 20th century that we finally began to see a device that resembled the modern-day chain saw. Stihl has become a very well-known brand in the world of chainsaws and it is Andreas Stihl more often than not who is seen as the creator of the modern chainsaw. Like Heine before him he was German born. He was already successful as a mechanical engineer and was managing his own company manufacturing steam boiler prefiring systems. It was here that he went one step further and created the 'cut-off chainsaw for Electric power'. This was such a success it was soon followed by the petrol driven version which he called the 'tree-felling machine'. Quick to patent his new ideas in 1929, the first handheld chainsaws designed for woodcutting had been invented. McCulloch has also become a big and respected chainsaw brand and he also began to mass produce chainsaws in the 1920's and 1930's. The first models were heavy and very large. They therefore needed to be worked by two operators. It was not until after World War 2 that they were made lighter with the advent of aluminum. They now were more mobile and could be carried by one workman. Up until very recently they had no safety devices such as hand guards, kickback protectors and brake locks at all. This made the early machines quite dangerous. In the 1950's there came a change in how chainsaws were actually being used. For the first time wood cutting using a chainsaw became an art form. Ken Kaiser was one of the first innovators of this popular culture and he is perhaps best known for the 'Trees of Mystery'. This is a set of 50 wooden sculptures that can be still seen today, and has become a traditional roadside attraction for tourists in Klamath, California. Its most well-known chainsaw sculpture is the huge 49 foot tall stature of Paul Bunyan (a giant lumberjack in US mythology). Kens artwork prompted others in the sixties so that by the 1980's it even had its own World championships (held in Wisconsin USA). The craze really took off with the advent of the interne, and many books have been written on sculpting skills. Perhaps more than that, chainsaw wood carving has become a 'performance art'. Its many fans are thrilled by watching the exciting and highly skilled process of turning a small piece of wood into a detailed reflection of its surroundings. Now in the 21st century, there are chainsaws available for all kinds of jobs and tasks. Some are light, quiet and easy to use (good for simple domestic garden tasks) while others are meant for commercial use (heavy-duty powerful petrol machines). The blades come in different lengths dependent upon the kind of work you are doing. You can even get a special carving blade with a very small nose (or tip). Also all chainsaws have safety at the heart of their design with such features as hand guards, kickback locks and brake locks. And there are no excuses for not keeping safe as there are numerous books, videos, and DVDs exalting the proper use of the device. The chainsaw continues to progress to become an even more streamlined and safer machine to use - hopefully soon it will have only the one persona!
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