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The History Of the Chainsaw Is Scarier Than Any Ghost Story

Um, they used this for WHAT!?

It is often unnerving to learn the original uses of everyday items. For instance, did you know that the treadmill was invented as a punishment for prisoners, who were literally forced to “tread” on the machine in order to pound, or mill, grain? A similarly sinister origin can be attributed to the chainsaw, which nowadays is known as a garden and forestry tool. Find out more in this video.


As stated in this video, the chainsaw was the invention of two Scottish doctors in the late 1700s. They called it a “flexible saw” and its purpose was to easily excise bits of bone from a patient, such as in the outdated childbirth method known as symphysiotomy, or pelviotomy, in which a doctor cut away bits of the pregnant person’s pelvic bone from the inside to help ease passage of a trapped baby in the birthing canal. By 1830, a German orthopedist was using what we’d recognize as a miniature version of the modern chain saw. This horrific device was obviously much smaller than a modern, logging chainsaw and looked a bit like a serrated kitchen knife with a crank handle.

Though in use for nearly a hundred years, the device was eventually superseded by the flexible wire saw by the end of the 1800s. Around this time, those in the timber industry began to see its worth and some patented a larger version suited to cutting through wood. By the early twentieth century, power features were added, leading to the well-known models recognizable today. Now, the closest most medical practitioners get to chainsaws are when there’s been a gruesome accident. 

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