How to start a stihl chainsaw

How to Start a Stihl Chainsaw

Finally ready to dig down and cut that big ol’ tree? Got an old chainsaw just aching to be used? Look no further than right here to learn how to start a Stihl chainsaw. Or maybe you are simply having trouble getting the chainsaw to start. Either way, follow this guide for answers for all things chainsaw-related.

Knowing Your Stihl Chainsaw


First, you’ve got to understand all the parts of the chainsaw and what they do. If you have your Stihl owner’s manual, that would be a great thing to look over, but those items always tend to get lost. Below are some basic elements of the chainsaw. They may vary from model to model.

  • Master Control Lever: four different settings
    • 0: stop
    • I: normal running position
    • starting throttle: for a warm engine
    • choke shutter closed: for a cold engine
  • Throttle: the trigger that provides power to the engine. Letting it go will stop rotating the chain and cause the engine to idle.
  • Chain Brake: secures the chain safely. Engage this when not using the chainsaw
  • Recoil Starter: if you yank on this a few times, then you’ve gotten your ending started.
  • Decompression Valve: relieves compression in the engine. Pressing this makes it easier to pull the recoil.

Style, Safety, and Set-Up

First, it’s important to note and follow all safety precautions. You definitely don’t want to be on the wrong end of a chainsaw like everyone in the horror movies. Make sure your work area is clean and clear of any unsafe materials lingering around. You will also want to work in a large, open space.

Your Outfit 

Get ready to style and profile in your chainsaw safety outfit. You will need eye protection, boots, a vest, gloves, helmet, chainsaw chaps (if you’ve got them), and hearing protection because the chainsaw will get loud.


Check the gasoline in the tank; especially, if the chainsaw hasn’t been used in a little while. Discard old gas and replace it with fresh gasoline. The fuel should be mixed with 2-stroke oil using the correct ratio, which should be in your original instruction manual.

Checking the Chain

Before starting the chainsaw, always begin in a seated position for the most stability. You can now remove the bar cover and inspect the saw. The chain brake should be engaged now, and be sure it’s on whenever you are not using the chainsaw. You can turn on the chain brake by pushing the guard forward until it clicks into position. Then, remove the chain guard and look over the chain to confirm that it’s in good condition and fitted correctly. The circumstance may be that your chainsaw is too far gone and you will simply need a new one, but that’s the last measure.

Steps for How to Start a Stihl Chainsaw

  1. With the chain brake on, push the decompression valve to make it easier to pull the recoil starter. If there’s no decompression valve on your saw, press the purge pump about five times instead.
  2. Press the primer bulb, the plastic bubble on the side of the saw, to help the engine start faster. Beware not to press it too many times or it could flood the engine.
  3. You then want to make sure the chain is well lubricated, which should be automatic. You can do this by holding your saw upward in the light and squeezing the throttle. You will hopefully see the lubricant glistening on the chain.
  4. Place the saw down on a level, firm surface. Make sure not to touch the bar or chain to the ground. 
  5. Set the master control lever to choke for a cold start. Keep in mind that you will turn the level immediately from choke to throttle after the engine starts to run.
    • For a warm start, go directly to the normal idle position, and the engine should be running successfully after pulling the recoil starter rope. 
  6. Get a great gust of energy, place your boot on the rear handle and hold it down while grabbing hold of the recoil starter rope, and gently pull the starter rope upwards.
  7. With a few big tugs, the engine will probably fire up, sputter, then shut off.
  8. Once the engine dies, move the master control lever to half throttle (the next position).
  9. Pull the starter rope again, and the engine should start running.
  10. Then tap the throttle briefly, and the chainsaw will move to the normal idle position. With the saw in this setting, it should be running smoothly.
    • If this doesn’t work, press the decompression or purge valve again and try pulling on the recoil starter rope once again. 
    • If nothing is working, try checking the spark plug and cleaning that if it’s dirty.
  11. Finally, it’s time to lift the chainsaw and avoid hitting the throttle trigger while doing so. Get a strong grip on the front padded handle and the rear handle then you can pull the chain brake backward. This action will disengage the chain brake, and the chain can now rotate on the sprocket.

Last Step: Pat Yourself on the Back

Congratulate yourself for your hard work and feel good knowing that you’ve learned how to start a Stihl chainsaw with your day. Remember to follow the safety steps and avoid contact with the catalytic converter before shutting the chainsaw off. Good luck and happy sawing.

Written by Ashley Cimarolli

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