THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT INVENTION affecting logging was the chainsaw of 1935. Although it was not invented in Oregon, it was perfected there in 1947 by lumberjack Joseph Cox. While chopping firewood one chilly autumn day in 1946, Cox paused for a moment to examine the curious activity in a tree stump. A timber beetle larva the size of a man’s forefinger was easily chewing its way through sound timber, going both across and through the wood grain at will.
Cox was an experienced operator of the gas-powered saws used in those days, but the cutting chain was the problem. It required a great deal of filing and maintenance time. According to Cox “I spent several months looking for nature’s answer to the problem. I found it in the larva of the timber beetle.”
Cox knew if he could duplicate the larva’s alternating C-shaped jaws in steel, it might catch on. He went to work in the basement shop of his Portland, OR, home and came up with a revolutionary new chain. The first Cox Chipper Chain was produced and sold in November 1947. The basic design of his original chain is still widely used today and represents one of the biggest influences in the history of timber harvesting.