The First Stihl Chainsaws: Electric and Gas Two-Man Chainsaws

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What was the first Stihl chainsaw?

Surprisingly, the first chainsaw Andreas Stihl patented was a two-man electric model in 1926. His first saw wasn’t gas!

The first gas-powered Stihl chainsaw was the two-man Stihl Type A, released three years later in 1929. It was also one of the world’s first gas-powered chainsaws.

The Earliest STIHL Chainsaw

earliest stihl chainsaw 1926

  • Invented: 1926
  • Weight: 105 pounds / 48 kgs
  • Output: 2.2 kW

The STG1 is the first Stihl chainsaw, a far cry from the Stihl electric chainsaws we know today.

Andreas Stihl created this ‘cut-off chainsaw for electric power’ in 1926, a few years before the first gas chainsaw. However, it looks very similar to the gas saw he would later create.

It’s also recognized as the first commercially available chainsaw, though it wasn’t a major success. The cost and limitations of the machine prevented it from being used widely.

Besides requiring electricity, its main limitation was that it could only be used vertically. The saw could not be used horizontally for felling. The 1929 Type A allowed for more freedom of use.

stihl stg1 chainsaw 1926

This electric chainsaw was the first to be produced by the company.

Andreas STIHL started out in 1926 as a machine manufacturer so that the electrically driven cross-cutting saw which he had developed on the drawing boardcould finally be produced in series. By then, a number of test machines has already been used successfully in the forestry companies’ mill yards and sawmills.

first stihl chainsaw in use
The STIHL STG1 in use

The power required for sawing was delivered via a 2.2 kW DC motor which could be modified to operate on a 3-phase supply.

This electrically driven cross cutting saw was also the first sawing machine to operate continuously and reliably, the culmination of numerous, sometimes hair-raising attempts to use motor power for sawing wood.

The “Tree-Felling Machine”

earliest stihl chainsaw

  • Invented: 1929
  • Weight: 101 pounds / 46 kgs
  • Output: 4.5 kW / 6 hp

This is The Stihl Type A, or “Tree-Felling Machine.”

It was one of the first gasoline-powered chainsaws, though it came second to the first Dolmar chainsaw.

On the side with the gas engine, it has a wooden bike-style handle for one man. The other end of the chainsaw has a single handle for another man to help guide the saw through logs.

first stihl logo

In 1929, Andreas Stihl unveils his first saw with a gasoline-powered engine – a two-man saw with 6 horsepower that weighs in at 46 kilograms.

The saw is a true “portable tree-felling machine” and becomes STIHL’s first export hit, selling well in Russia, Canada and the U.S. Business booms.

The engineering workshop evolves into Maschinenfabrik Andreas Stihl, with a growing workforce and the first company logo: a tree stump with the name “Stihl” on it.

Spurred on by their success, Andreas Stihl and his employees continue to develop the gasoline saw. By 1931, they have increased its output to 8 horsepower.

Before these early STIHL gas chainsaws were invented, several other saws were used for logging. There was the Roman crosscut ripsaw, the bowsaw, the bandsaw, and even a steam-powered logging machine, to name a few.

Learn more about the early development of the chainsaw in the book Garden Heroes and Villains by George Drower (on Amazon in hardcover or Kindle).

Andreas Stihl’s Chainsaw Innovations

andreas stihl first gas chainsaw
Andreas Stihl with members of his staff

Before he started making chainsaws, his company, Stihl, was based in Stuggart, Germany, and made boiler systems. Stihl was a trained mechanical engineer.

In this next video, shot in a private chainsaw museum, you can see several of the earliest Stihl chainsaws, including an underwater marine chainsaw built for the military.

Andreas Stihl is known as the ‘Father of the Chainsaw’ due to his innovative and important inventions.

His team undoubtedly played a massive role in developing these tools, and the company has continued to grow since he died in 1973.

andraes stihl contra
Andreas Stihl with the Contra

Stihl is now the largest chainsaw manufacturer in the world, with over a hundred different models produced since the 1950s.

The saws are manufactured and assembled in facilities worldwide, and they’re likely used and appreciated in every single country on earth.

Early Chainsaw Development

The history of the chainsaw is interesting.

Several companies besides Stihl played a big part in developing this tool. Some even trace the origin of the chainsaw back to a medical instrument for childbirth. 

As far as wood-cutting chainsaws go, Stihl was a pivotal player, but there’s ECHO, Homelite, McCulloch, Jonsered, and Husqvarna. The story of the Husqvarna logo is also an interesting one!


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2 thoughts on “The First Stihl Chainsaws: Electric and Gas Two-Man Chainsaws”

  1. I think you should have done some more research as Stihl did not make the first petrol powered chainsaw. Another German company built a saw and tested it in Bavaria 1 year prior to Stihl, and they named the saw after the place where they tested it, Mount Dolmar.


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