Can a Chainsaw Cut Through Bone? (A Shocking Experiment!)

Are you ready for the ULTIMATE showdown?

It’s Chainsaw VS Bone in a battle for the ages!

We’ve all heard the rumors and myths, but is it really possible for a chainsaw to slice through the toughest substance in the human body?

Let’s figure it out.

Can a Chainsaw Cut Through Bone?

can a chainsaw cut through bones - featured image

YES, a chainsaw is powerful enough to cut through bones without facing any problems. You don’t even need to use a high-power chainsaw or apply additional force for it to work. A normal wood-working chainsaw would do the job easily.

Think I’m bluffing? Not really!

On 9th September 2021, Forensic Science International published a study that investigates the chainsaws’ ability to cut through human bone.

(The main motive was to determine accidental versus intentional bone damage caused by chainsaw injuries.)

To replicate a real-life situation, the researchers created surrogate ballistic gelatine forearms and embedded “bone simulant” made from high-density foam (matching the density of an adult male bone).

Complete arm replica. The bone simulant is surrounded by semi-clear ballistic gel.

Image Source: Science Direct

Here’s what they found –

Cut pattern showing the bone simulant was initially cut by the chainsaw before any breakaway fracture in all set-up cases.

Image Source: Science Direct

As you can see, both the forearms were completely cut through when exposed to the chainsaw. Seems like the chainsaw didn’t have any problems slicing through the bones. (Read the full study here)

That’s not all!

While doing research for this article, I crashed into a video where a man was cutting a chicken drumstick using nothing but a chainsaw. (Here’s that video)

It’s literally CRAZY!

He’s using the Bosch Nanoblade 12V electric chainsaw (one of the tiniest saws out there) with a blade less than 10 cm long, and it doesn’t seem to have any problem.

The maximum output of this saw is around 100W (which is about 1/7th of one horsepower). 

With this much power, this saw might not go through more solid bones, like human skulls. But, there are more powerful chainsaws capable of producing up to 5-10 horsepower. They won’t have any problem slicing through the toughest bones.

So, again, yes, a chainsaw can cut through bone.

Related Post: Can a Chainsaw Cut Through Metal?

Chainsaws were First Invented to Cut Bones

Yes, chainsaws were first invented to cut bone during childbirth.

Let me explain

Back in the early 18th century, doctors would only use the vagina to deliver babies. But if the baby was too big or in a funny position, it might not fit or get stuck.

To help the baby come out, the doctors would do a surgery called a “symphysiotomy.” This includes taking out some bones and cartilage to make more room for the baby. (Source)

The surgery used to be done by hand, with a knife to cut away the bone.

“In the late 18th century, 2 Scottish doctors, John Aitken and James Jeffray, developed a prototype of the chainsaw – familiar today in the timber industry – for symphysiotomy and the excision of diseased bone.” (Source: Pharmacy Times)

(It used to look something like this:)

Image Source: Popular Science

But later in the 19th century, the chainsaws were heavily mechanized and began to be used in the timber industry rather than its original use on women.

That’s how we got to where we are today. So, there’s nothing surprising about a chainsaw being able to cut through bone.

Do Surgeons Still Use Chainsaws to Cut Bones?

Well, those small, handheld chainsaws are no longer used in surgery. Today, surgeons use tools like electrically powered Oscillating saws and rotary drills for orthopaedic and neurosurgery, which are far safer and more precise than the bone saws previously used.

These tools work by vibrating (the vibration is much lower than their chainsaw counterparts) or rotating at high speeds, letting the surgeon quickly and accurately cut through tissue and bone with less risk of damaging surrounding tissue or nerves.

Will Cutting Wood Dull the Chainsaw Chain?

Cutting bone with a chainsaw will dull the chain. It’s obvious! Because human bones (for example) are stronger than concrete and have a similar comprehensive strength as steel. So, a regular wood-cutting chain won’t be able to cut through it without getting destroyed.

Want to know a fact?

Chainsaw chains are not designed to cut, actually. They are designed to “nibble” of a sliver of material (one chip) at a time with each tooth. (If you’ve ever used a hand planer, you know what I’m talking about.) (Source)

Also Read: Will Cutting Wet Wood Dull the Chain?

how do chainsaw chain cutting teeth work

But since bones are way harder than even the toughest of woods, the teeth of the chainsaw chain wouldn’t be able to bite into the bone like they would with wood. 

Instead, they would just keep hitting the bone and get dull.

That’s why the teeth on a bone saw chain are much smaller (you might even miss them at first glance) and have much sharper edges than a wood-cutting chain.

bone saw cutting teeth

And they’re designed to cut through the material, not just nibble at it.

Can a Chainsaw Cut Through a person?

It’s possible for a chainsaw to cut through a person. The skin, flesh, and even bones can be cut through by a chainsaw if the saw is powerful enough. But if you’re talking about a clothed person, then the saw might get stuck in the clothes before it could reach the bone.

In other words?

Chainsaws don’t seem to have any issue cutting through human flesh, but the clothing might be a problem.

This is the main concept behind chainsaw chaps. When the saw comes in contact with the chaps, it gets caught up, stopping it before it can reach your skin.

(Here’s a video that explains it)

As soon as the saw chain came in contact with the chaps, it got stuck and stopped moving. The doll was slightly scratched, but it was otherwise unharmed.

(This is why chainsaw chaps are important for anyone working around a chainsaw – even if you are experienced with these tools)

Related Post: Can You Cut Ice with a Chainsaw?

Can a Chainsaw Kill You?

Yes, chainsaws are one of the most dangerous power tools out there and they can potentially kill you if used incorrectly. Every year, around 28,000 cases get reported alone in the USA, and 1 in 10 of those injuries result in amputation. (Source)

The most common types of chainsaw-related injuries include lacerations, amputations, broken bones, back strains, and even death. These are mainly caused by chainsaw kick-back, pull-back, and pull-in.

However, modern chainsaws have safety features (e.g. chain catcher, chain brake, anti-vibration system, safety throttle) that minimize the risk of injury or death.

But it’s still important that you take all the necessary safety precautions when using a chainsaw. This includes wearing protective gear, such as

  • eye protection,
  • hearing protectors,
  • protective gloves,
  • chaps,
  • helmet, and
  • jacket.

It’s better to be safe than SORRY!

Goodbye Words!

That’s it for today!

I hope you found this answer helpful. If you did, check out my other AWESOME posts, and don’t forget to leave a comment below!

Thanks 🙂

Samuel Anali

Hey there! My name is Sam, and I'm the NERD behind this site. I'm an avid chainsaw enthusiast, and I've been tinkering with them since I was 17 (it's almost 20 years now!).

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