A chainsaw (or chain saw) is a portable gasoline-, electric-, or battery-powered saw that cuts with a set of teeth attached to a rotating chain driven along a guide bar. It is used in activities such as tree felling, limbing, bucking, pruning, cutting firebreaks in wildland fire suppression, and harvesting of firewood. Chainsaws with specially designed bar-and-chain combinations have been developed as tools for use in chainsaw art and chainsaw mills. Specialized chainsaws are used for cutting concrete during construction developments. Chainsaws are sometimes used for cutting ice; for example, ice sculpture and winter swimming in Finland.
The earliest patent for a practical “endless chain saw” (a saw comprising a chain of links carrying saw teeth and running in a guide frame) was granted to Samuel J. Bens of San Francisco on January 17, 1905, his intent being to fell giant redwoods. The first portable chainsaw was developed and patented in 1918 by Canadian millwright James Shand. After he allowed his rights to lapse in 1930, his invention was further developed by what became the German company Festo in 1933. The company, now operating as Festool, produces portable power tools. Other important contributors to the modern chainsaw are Joseph Buford Cox and Andreas Stihl; the latter patented and developed an electric chainsaw for use on bucking sites in 1926 and a gasoline-powered chainsaw in 1929, and founded a company to mass produce them. In 1927, Emil Lerp, the founder of Dolmar, developed the world’s first gasoline-powered chainsaw and mass produced them.