People left creeped out and full of regret after googling 'why chainsaws were invented'

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By James Kay

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We're all familiar with what a chainsaw is, right? But what if I told you, that they weren't invented to cut down trees...

When you think of a chainsaw, you presumably imagine a lumberjack or someone else tending to overgrown trees and hedges.

On the flip side, you might also think of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and people running for their lives to avoid being cut up.

Well, the reason chainsaws were invented is closer to the horror movie than anything else.

GettyImages-471236839.jpgChainsaws weren't originally invented to cut down trees. Credit: edelmar/Getty

This is about to get gross.

Before it became a staple in logging, the chainsaw had a surprising origin in the field of medicine.

Invented in the 1780s by Scottish doctors John Aitken and James Jeffray, this hand-cranked device was initially developed to aid in the medical procedures of "symphysiotomy and excision of diseased bone," according to materials from the Scottish Medical Journal available through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cited by USA Today.

A symphysiotomy is a surgical procedure designed to widen the pubic symphysis joint, creating more space for childbirth.

Although now considered outdated, this operation was once a critical intervention to save the lives of mothers and infants before the caesarean section became prevalent.


In short, it was used to cut through bone to assist mothers who were having trouble giving birth.

Despite resistance from many obstetricians, who questioned Aitken’s advocacy for the chainsaw in childbirth complications, Jeffray’s application of the device for joint excisions gained acceptance.

During the Civil War, the “flexible chain saw” became a preferred tool for amputations, causing less damage to surrounding tissues compared to the rigid bone saws of the era.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several inventors experimented with gasoline or steam-powered saws featuring flexible chains.

However, Jim Waldrop of the British Columbia Provincial Museum notes that these early models were impractical due to their cumbersome engines.

GettyImages-923256646.jpgCredit: stock_colors/Getty

It wasn’t until 1918 that Canadian logger James Shand was awarded the patent for the first portable, gasoline-powered chainsaw, revolutionizing both the medical and logging industries.

When this information was shared on X, asking people to google the original use of a chainsaw, people were left horrified.

"I regret looking it up," one person wrote, as a second said: "If I were a woman living back then there is no conceivable way I would allow myself to become pregnant."

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Featured image credit: stock_colors/Getty

People left creeped out and full of regret after googling 'why chainsaws were invented'

vt-author-image

By James Kay

Article saved!Article saved!

We're all familiar with what a chainsaw is, right? But what if I told you, that they weren't invented to cut down trees...

When you think of a chainsaw, you presumably imagine a lumberjack or someone else tending to overgrown trees and hedges.

On the flip side, you might also think of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and people running for their lives to avoid being cut up.

Well, the reason chainsaws were invented is closer to the horror movie than anything else.

GettyImages-471236839.jpgChainsaws weren't originally invented to cut down trees. Credit: edelmar/Getty

This is about to get gross.

Before it became a staple in logging, the chainsaw had a surprising origin in the field of medicine.

Invented in the 1780s by Scottish doctors John Aitken and James Jeffray, this hand-cranked device was initially developed to aid in the medical procedures of "symphysiotomy and excision of diseased bone," according to materials from the Scottish Medical Journal available through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cited by USA Today.

A symphysiotomy is a surgical procedure designed to widen the pubic symphysis joint, creating more space for childbirth.

Although now considered outdated, this operation was once a critical intervention to save the lives of mothers and infants before the caesarean section became prevalent.


In short, it was used to cut through bone to assist mothers who were having trouble giving birth.

Despite resistance from many obstetricians, who questioned Aitken’s advocacy for the chainsaw in childbirth complications, Jeffray’s application of the device for joint excisions gained acceptance.

During the Civil War, the “flexible chain saw” became a preferred tool for amputations, causing less damage to surrounding tissues compared to the rigid bone saws of the era.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several inventors experimented with gasoline or steam-powered saws featuring flexible chains.

However, Jim Waldrop of the British Columbia Provincial Museum notes that these early models were impractical due to their cumbersome engines.

GettyImages-923256646.jpgCredit: stock_colors/Getty

It wasn’t until 1918 that Canadian logger James Shand was awarded the patent for the first portable, gasoline-powered chainsaw, revolutionizing both the medical and logging industries.

When this information was shared on X, asking people to google the original use of a chainsaw, people were left horrified.

"I regret looking it up," one person wrote, as a second said: "If I were a woman living back then there is no conceivable way I would allow myself to become pregnant."

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Featured image credit: stock_colors/Getty