How To Start A Chainsaw: Easily Start Gas, Electric, Cordless, And Stihl Chainsaws

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For beginners, starting a chainsaw can be a tricky task, but it can be equally easy as long as you know how to start a chainsaw. In this article, you will get to know all about how to start a gas chainsaw, how to start a battery chainsaw, why your chainsaw might not start, and a lot more.

How to start a gas chainsaw

Many beginner chainsaw users have been there, not knowing how to properly start a chainsaw and having trouble getting it to work. During such moments, there is no worse feeling than having your chainsaw stutter and not start properly, leaving you in a spot of bother.

A gas-powered chainsaw is far easier to start than other kinds of chainsaws. Before starting the chainsaw, you must perform a maintenance check.

  • Check the fuel level 
  • Fill fresh fuel and oil
  • Ensure that the spark plug is fully seated

When you’re starting the chainsaw cold, you’re starting a chainsaw that hasn’t been in use for a long time. It may be the first time that you’ve started the chainsaw that month, or it might even be the first time that you’ve ever used the chainsaw. In either case, the end goal will be to get the fuel flowing and to get the chainsaw’s engine warm enough to fire.

1. Set the chain brake

Without the chain brake applied, the gas chainsaw’s chain will rotate around the bar as soon as the engine starts. Setting the chain brake will be one of the most crucial steps that you can take for your safety.

2. Close the choke

Your engine will start better and more easily once you provide it with a concentrated burst of fuel. Closing the choke will block any airflow, which will change the mixture of air and fuel that flows to the engine, giving it a strong blend.

3. Slowly press the decompression valve

It isn’t necessary that every chainsaw comes with a decompression valve. If your chainsaw features a decompression valve, press it, as it’ll reduce pressure in your engine’s combustion chamber. This will make it far easier for the engine to fire.

4. Press the fuel bulb

Older chainsaws come with a primer bulb. It’ll send fuel into your chainsaw’s carburetor, which will feed the engine the necessary fuel and air needed for keeping it running. Your gas chainsaw will require 4-5 pushes on the fuel bulb.

On newer chainsaws, you are likely to find an air purge bulb instead. Pressing the fuel bulb will push excess air out of the fuel lines.

5. Pull the cord to start the engine

Place your gas-powered chainsaw on the ground, place one of your hands on the handlebar, and your right foot on the boot grip for added stability. Slowly pull the cord until you feel the resistance. Then, firmly and rapidly, pull the cord until the engine fires up, and you hear the engine sound like a cough. This is the normal sound of an engine trying to start.

6. Set the choke to Run/On

Move the choke lever to the “Run/On” position, as it’ll open the choke but keep on running the engine at high idle. It will add air to the mixture of fuel getting fed to the engine so that it is able to run consistently without being flooded.

7. Pull the cord again

This time, you will need to pull the starter cord multiple time until you hear the engine fire up. Keep pulling the cord until the chainsaw smoothly starts. Once it does, it’ll continue running.

8. Set the engine to “Low/Idle”

Let the gas chainsaw run for a few minutes. This will allow the chainsaw to reach an ideal temperature to use. Then, slowly hit the throttle once and release it for setting the engine to low idle. Once you’re ready to put your chainsaw to use, simply release the chain brake, and you will be ready to go.

How to start an electric chainsaw

Starting an electric chainsaw will require fewer steps as compared to starting a gas-powered chainsaw. However, you will still need to follow the needed safety measures before starting the electric chainsaw.

man trying to start chainsaw

Most corded electric chainsaws tend to require pressing a safety lock button for making the switch trigger operational, while also preventing accidental starts. Check your chainsaw’s instruction manual to get information specific to your chainsaw.

  • Connect the power cord to the electric chainsaw
  • Place the electric chainsaw on flat ground and ensure that the bar is clear of any obstacles or bystanders at a safe distance 
  • Engage the chain brake
  • Engage the safety switch while pulling the trigger switch for starting the chainsaw motor
  • Hold the trigger switch for continuous operation
  • Check the functionality of your electric chainsaw chain brake for ensuring that it is working just as expected
  • Disengage the chain brake and start cutting
  • Slowly release the brake to stop the engine. Most electric chainsaws are fairly easy to halt, so you will have to be vigilant and wait for it to fully stop 

How to start a battery chainsaw 

Similar to gas-powered chainsaws, battery or cordless chainsaws will come with a list of safety maintenance tasks that you should undertake before starting the chainsaw. For battery-operated chainsaws, always prefer to use fully charged batteries while also keeping backup batteries nearby.

One of the advantages of using cordless chainsaws that beginners like is the minimal effort required to start them. There is no cord to pull or any throttle to open, just a few buttons to press.

1. Disengaging the chainsaw brake

Unlike gas chainsaws, which tend to rotate even when the chainsaw’s engine is idling, the chains on battery chainsaws will not spin unless you press the trigger. This means you won’t need to disengage the chain brake on a cordless chainsaw for it to start and spin.

2. Pressing the safety button

Your chainsaw’s instruction manual may refer to the safety button by other names, like the trigger lock or the throttle lockout. Regardless of the name mentioned in the instruction manual, this small button is normally found on the side of the rear handle.

Due to its location, the best way of pressing the safety button would be with the thumb on the hand holding the chainsaw’s handle.

3. Squeezing the trigger switch

While constantly pressing the safety button with your thumb, simply pull the trigger switch with your index finger. Slowly release the safety button and continue squeezing the trigger switch for operating your chainsaw.

How to start a Stihl chainsaw

  • Before you start using the Stihl chainsaw, the chain brake needs to be activated by slowly pushing it forward.
  • Remember to remove the bar cover before you start the chainsaw.
  • If your chainsaw is fitted with a decompression valve, press it, as it’ll assist you with firing the engine and starting the chainsaw.
  • If your Stihl chainsaw has a primer bulb, press it 4-5 times. It will help you with starting and reducing the number of pulls required for starting the chainsaw.
  • Set the master control lever to Choke/Cold start. Press the throttle trigger lockout and then press the throttle trigger. Then, proceed to press the master control lever down.
  • For starting the chainsaw, place it on a flat surface. The cutting attachment may not be in contact with the ground for avoiding blunting it when starting and putting yourself at risk.
  • Leaving your Stihl chainsaw on the ground, place one of your hands on the handlebar and place the other hand on the starter rope. Push your toecap into the rear handle for stabilizing the chainsaw.
  • The engine will briefly fire and immediately die down. Move the Master Controller lever up a notch for opening the choke.
  • Pull the starter rope once more until the engine smoothly fires up again.
  • Once the engine has fired up and is running properly, touch the throttle trigger, and move back the master control lever to the idle setting. 
  • Slowly lift the chainsaw, making sure that you’re taking care of not touching the throttle trigger.
  • Release the chain brake by pulling the brake handle toward you with your left hand. Remember to hold the handlebar with your left hand when you’re doing this. Once you hear a click sound, it is a sign that the chain has been released, and you’re safe to turn on the bar.
  • Before you get started, remember to check for chain lubrication. Hold the chainsaw against a light-colored background like a piece of paper on the ground or a tree trunk, and then start the throttle. If chain lubrication appears in the background, then you can start the work.
  • The Stihl chainsaw is ready to be used.

Possible reasons why your chainsaw is not starting 

The spark plug may be defective and need replacement

If your chainsaw features a defective spark plug, it won’t be able to produce the needed electric current for igniting the system. Remove the spark plug and carefully inspect it to check if it is damaged, eroded, cracked, or dirty. There might also be a heavy carbon build-up or burnt-up electrode. If the spark plug in your chainsaw has this issue, replace it with a new spark plug. If the chainsaw spark plug appears fine but doesn’t work properly, replace it anyway.

The ignition coil might be damaged

The ignition coil is the component that sends voltage to the spark plug and results in the spark that ignites the fuel and turns on the chainsaw. If the engine isn’t turning on, the coil might have been damaged, which happens over time with repeated usage.

Once you have ensured that the spark plug isn’t the issue, buy an ignition coil tester for checking. If you don’t get any spark during the testing, it means that the ignition coil is likely the reason and must be replaced.

Defective recoil starter

A recoil tester will allow you to pull up on the starter rope and engage the starting mechanism for turning on the chainsaw engine. In case the recoil starter is defective, then the engine won’t be able to start.

To test if the recoil starter assembly is defective, slowly remove it from the chainsaw and see what is happening. The pulley system might be stuck and have to be placed back into the correct position. If you’re trying this and the chainsaw isn’t starting like it is supposed to, the recoil starter will likely need to be replaced.

Chainsaw’s engine might be flooded with fuel

The fuel issue is definitely one of the most common reasons for a chainsaw to not start. If the operator repeatedly tries to start the chainsaw through the recoil starter system, then it might have flooded the engine with fuel accidentally. A common indication that the engine has been flooded is by checking the smell of gasoline in the air.

If you believe that fuel has flooded the chainsaw engine, simply pull the starter cord a few times while holding the throttle, replace the spark plug, and try to start the chainsaw once again.

Fuel might have deteriorated and need replacing

As with many mechanical tools, the quantity and quality of the fuel used will greatly impact its functionality and operation. When operating a chainsaw, check that the chainsaw is fueled properly so that the engine can smoothly run. Fuel will start deteriorating if left sitting and unused. If your chainsaw hasn’t been used in a while, make sure to check that old fuel isn’t collecting inside the tool. If the fuel is left unused for a long time, it’ll need to be cleaned and refilled.

How To Start A Chainsaw - LIKE A PRO!!!


Hopefully, this article would have answered all your questions such as how to start a gas chainsaw, how to start an electric chainsaw, how to start a Stihl chainsaw, how to start a battery chainsaw, as well as reasons why your chainsaw might not start. Regardless of the kind of chainsaw you’re using, make sure that you prioritize your safety and follow all the necessary safety measures. Check for the condition of your chainsaw and wear a proper PPE kit before you start the chainsaw for any task.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.