The first portable chainsaw was developed and patented in 1918 by Canadian millwright James Shand. Not long after, the rights to produce these saws were obtained by German company Festo in 1933. In 1927, Emil Lerp, the founder of Dolmar (otherwise known today as Makita), developed the world’s first gasoline-powered chainsaw and was able to mass-produce them.
World War II interrupted the supply of German chainsaws to North America, so new manufacturers sprang up including Outboard Marine Corporation, the oldest manufacturer of chainsaws in North America.
One of today’s leading American name brands, McCulloch, started to produce chainsaws in 1948. The early models were heavy, 2-person saws with long bars. Often chainsaws were so heavy that they had wheels like drag saws. Others used driven lines from a wheeled power unit to drive the cutting bar.
The chainsaws in our museum are some of the heavier options available leading up to the end of WWII.
Here are some of the vintage chainsaws we have hanging in the museum:
These large chainsaws were manufactured in Seattle, WA in the early 1950’s and were operated by one person. They featured a 74cc engine and weighed 31 pounds (without fuel).
Wright Reciprocating Saw
Technically, the Wright Saw is not a “chain” saw, but it operates using the same principal. Much like a modern sawzall tool, the teeth move horizontally back and forth and cut through the wood. These saws were very slow at cutting compared to the rotating chain saws.
Montgomery Ward – D55 1101