What was the first Stihl chainsaw?
The oldest gas-powered Stihl chainsaw is called ‘The Tree-Felling Machine’ and was created in 1929 by the German engineer, and founder of the Stihl company, Andreas Stihl. Even more remarkably, it was also the world’s first gas-powered chainsaw.
It was a two-man saw that weighed over 100 pounds. Although Andreas did not initially reference the earlier medical chainsaw, invented in the late 1700s, the similarities are striking. This Stihl gas chainsaw came almost 150 years after the first chainsaw was invented for use in childbirth.
Somewhat surprisingly, however, Andreas patented an electric chainsaw 3 years before this gas model in 1926. Here’s what we know about these two ground-breaking Stihl chainsaws.
*That’s not the first STIHL saw in the featured image above – that’s another early chainsaw – the earliest Stihl chainsaws are shown in the following images.
The First Stihl Chainsaw
- Invented/Patented: 1926
- Weight: 105 pounds; 48 kgs
- Output: 2.2 kW
This is the first Stihl chainsaw, and it’s electric.
As you can see, it’s a far cry from the Stihl electric chainsaws we know and recognize today.
Andreas Stihl created and patented the ‘cut off chainsaw for electric power’ in 1926, a few years before the first gas chainsaw. However, the design is very similar to the gas saw he would go on to create.
This electric model weighed over 105 pounds and required at least two people to move and operate it. It was the first electric chainsaw, so Andreas really was a fantastic inventor and entrepreneur.
It’s also known as the first commercially available chainsaw, though it wasn’t a major success. The cost and limitations of the machine did not lead to its uptake by hoards of loggers.
The first Stihl chainsaw that was gas-powered was a further innovation that allowed for more freedom of use.
The First Stihl Gas Chainsaw
- Invented/Patented: 1929
- Weight: 101 pounds; 46 kgs
- Output: 6 horsepower
This is The Tree-Felling Machine – also recognized as one of the first Stihl chainsaws (though in reality, it’s the second). However, it was the first gasoline-powered chainsaw.
You can see that it has two wooden handles for a man on the side with the gas engine, and another handle at the end of the chainsaw bar for another man to help guide the saw through logs.
Prior to the invention of gas chainsaws, there were a number of other saws that were used for logging. There was the Roman crosscut ripsaw, the bowsaw, the bandsaw, and even a steam-powered logging machine, to name only a few.
You can learn more about the early development of the chainsaw in the book Garden Heroes and Villains by George Drower (on Amazon in hard cover or Kindle).
Andreas Stihl’s Chainsaw Innovations
This is Andreas Stihl with members of his staff.
Before he started making chainsaws, his company made boiler systems. Stihl was a trained mechanical engineer and the company was based in Stuggart, Germany.
In this next video, shot in a private chainsaw museum, you can see a number of the earliest Stihl chainsaws, including an underwater marine chainsaw built for the military.
Andreas Stihl is widely known as the ‘father of the chainsaw’ due to his innovative and important inventions.
No doubt, his team played a massive role in the development of these tools, and the company has continued to go from strength to strength since his death in 1973.
Stihl is the largest chainsaw manufacturer in the world, with hundreds of Stihl models in production since the 1950s. The Stihl 090 has the special title of being Stihl’s largest chainsaw, and is worth learning about!
Early Chainsaw Development
Chainsaw history is certainly interesting, and there are a number of companies besides Stihl that play a big part in the development of this tool.
Stihl is certainly foremost, but there’s ECHO, Homelite, McCulloch, Jonsered, and, of course, Husqvarna.
There are many Stihl chainsaw collectors out there, so if you’re interested, start asking around your local chainsaw communities as to whether there’s a private museum nearby.
Most collectors are happy to show off their collection to fellow Stihl aficionados!