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HOW TO START A STIHL CHAINSAW – A step by step guide

Michael Boyer by Michael Boyer

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Last Updated January 14, 2019

Here is your go-to guide on how to start and operate a Stihl chainsaw. These 10 easy-to-follow steps cover everything from where to position your hands to proper safety apparel.

Acquaint yourself with the following parts of a chainsaw’s anatomy:

Master Control LeverIt is used to change settings. It features four vertical symbols, including 0 (Stop), I (normal running position), starting throttle (used to start a warm engine), and choke shutter closed (used to start a cold engine).Needs to be properly set to fire up engine
Front HandleThis is the padded handle located on the top front of the saw. It is used for two-hand holds.Must have a strong grip on this at all times to avoid injuries.
Rear HandleThis is located on the back side of saw and contains the trigger.Must have a grip on this at all times.
Chain BrakeThis is located in front of the front handle. It is used to safely secure the chain.Must be engaged when saw is not in use
Throttle TriggerIt is used to provide power to a running chainsawReleasing it will automatically shut off the saw

Ten Steps to Firing Up a Stihl Chainsaw

Using a Stihl chainsaw is a relatively simple procedure, but it is important that you follow safety precautions and suggested operating procedures to avoid accidents and injuries. The following list includes ten steps on how to start a gas-powered saw. Following that, we’ll provide an overview of starting an electric saw and some essential safety pointers.

  1. Check Your Work Area  It’s important to always carefully investigate your work environment for unsafe conditions before starting your saw. Beyond that, always wear proper safety apparel. In addition, familiarize yourself with your Stihl owner’s manual; instruction manuals can be downloaded at no cost. It is essential to fire up a chainsaw from the sitting position. If this is not possible, stabilize yourself on solid, flat ground. Remove the chain guard and inspect the saw. You should only ever fire up your Stihl chainsaw in a clear and open area. Your hands should have a secure grip on both handles. Never operate a saw when fatigued!
  2. Activate the Chain Brake Activate the chain brake by pushing forward on the handle guard.
  3. Remove the Bar Cover Remove the protective plate that covers the chain and bar.
  4. Prep the Engine Press the purge pump a minimum of five times to move fuel to the carburetor. Alternatively, if your model is equipped with a decompression valve, press this instead.
  5. Activate the Choke Set the control lever to choke (cold start). If your chainsaw has a primer pump, press it several times to release fuel into the carburetor.
  6. Get in Position Place the saw on a solid, flat surface. However, do not let the chain come in contact with the ground. With the saw resting on the ground, hold the top handle with your left hand while using your right foot to hold down the back handle. Once you’ve stabilized the saw, use your right hand to pull up on the starter rope.
  7. Continue to Pull the Starter Rope Pull the starter rope several times to start the engine. The rope should be pulled straight up, in a vertical motion. Do not let it hit the casing and don’t wrap it around your hand.
  8. Dealing with a Coughing Engine If the engine coughs for a moment and then dies (also known as burping), stop pulling the rope and adjust the control lever to open choke. Press the purge or decompression valve again. Afterward, continue pulling the starting rope. Do this until the engine fires.
  9. Press the Throttle Trigger Once the engine fires successfully, press down on the throttle trigger to automatically adjust the control lever to the idle setting. Otherwise, do so by slightly pushing up on the manual control lever. The engine should be running continuously at this point.
  10. Getting into Position Double check your surroundings to ensure they are once again free from potential hazards. Then, with your left hand holding the top handle, lift the Stihl chainsaw off of the ground. Once suspended, grab ahold of the rear handle with your right hand. Now, release the chain brake by pulling the top handle toward you.

Now, you can apply pressure to the trigger to activate the chain.


Alternative Starts

Stihl recommends that users always fire up their chainsaw in the sitting position. However, there are few suitable alternatives. When solid ground is not available, commence cutting from the standing position. In this scenario, you should hold the front handle with your left hand while placing the rear handle between your legs. Do this while using your right hand to pull the starting rope.

Firing Up a Warm Engine

Set the master control to run position. Continue all other actions as noted above.

Powering Up an Electric Stihl

  1. Plug it In Find an adequate power source and plug in your saw. Then, ensure that you have firm footing and that there are no bystanders or hazards nearby. Remember to use both hands to hold the device.
  2. Disengage the Brake Pull it firmly toward the front handle.
  3. Release the Trigger Locate and press the trigger switch lockout button on the side of the casing.
  4. Squeeze the Trigger Use your index finger to squeeze the trigger. This will engage the chain.
  5. Cut You can officially begin cutting!

Safety Tips

  • Always start your Stihl chainsaw several feet (at least 10) away from the fueling area.
  • Ensure that the chain brake is engaged when not in use.
  • Make sure your saw is properly lubricated.
  • Always check that your chainsaw is in good working condition.
  • Always engage the chain brake when carrying it over uneven terrain.
  • Always wear proper leg, foot, hand, face, and eye protection!
  • Ensure that the chain is in good repair and well lubricated before starting the engine.
  • Reduce the risk of kickback from the tip.
  • Avoid contact with the cataltic converter prior to idling or shutting off. This part poses a risk for fires and burns.
  • Always wear chainsaw chaps, a vest, a helmet, eye protection, hearing protection, and gloves.
  • Always use a quality chainsaw sharpener.
  • Never drop start a Stihl chainsaw!

Final Thoughts

Properly firing up a Stihl chainsaw requires an operator to be alert and in good physical condition. Additionally, users should be familiar with the proper measures for starting their machinery. In doing so, they not only reduce the risk of injury but also increase the productivity of a job and improve the longevity of their tools.