How to Start a Stihl Chainsaw: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you ready to tackle that backyard tree or trim those overgrown bushes? Before you get started, you must first learn how to start your Stihl chainsaw properly.

This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, from the safety precautions to shutting off your chainsaw and everything in between. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Safety Precautions

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Starting a Stihl chainsaw can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. To ensure your safety and the safety of those around you, it is essential to follow these key safety precautions when starting a Stihl chainsaw:

  • Wear proper protective gear, including safety glasses, hearing protection, heavy-duty work gloves, and a hard hat.
  • Make sure the area where you will be using the chainsaw is clear of debris and any potential hazards, such as fallen branches or rocks.
  • Keep all bystanders at a safe distance from the area where you will be using the chainsaw.
  • Check that the chainsaw is in good working condition, including checking the chain for proper tension and sharpness, checking the oil and fuel levels, and ensuring that the brakes and safety features are functioning correctly.
  • Before starting the chainsaw, make sure the chain brake is engaged and the chain is not in contact with any surface.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and any potential hazards, such as power lines or other equipment, and keep a safe distance from them while using the chainsaw.
  • Use a steady and firm grip on the chainsaw and keep your fingers and other body parts away from the chain while it is in motion.
  • Be aware of weather conditions and avoid using the chainsaw in extreme heat, cold, or wet conditions, as it can cause poor visibility and increases the risk of accidents.
  • Always keep the chainsaw safe and secure position when not in use.
  • If you feel tired or unwell, stop using the chainsaw and take a break.

Fuel & Oil

Using the correct fuel and oil for a Stihl chainsaw is crucial because it ensures optimal performance and prolongs the life of the saw.

The fuel must be a 50:1 mixture of unleaded gasoline and 2-cycle engine oil. Stihl recommends using their own brand of 2-cycle engine oil, but any oil labeled as such can be used.

To properly mix and fill the fuel tank, first, measure out the appropriate amount of gasoline and oil using a measuring container. Then, add the oil to the gasoline and mix thoroughly. Next, pour the mixture into the fuel tank. Be sure not to overfill the tank, as this can cause the saw to run poorly or even damage the engine.

If the chainsaw model has a separate oil reservoir, you need to fill it with bar and chain oil. The chain oil is specially formulated to help lubricate the chain and bar, preventing wear and tear and prolonging the life of the chain. You should check the oil level regularly and top it up as needed.

  • Note: You should never mix oil brands or use old oil, as this can cause damage to the chainsaw’s engine.

How to Start a Stihl Chainsaw

Starting a Stihl chainsaw can be a daunting task, especially for first-time users. However, with the right knowledge and proper safety precautions mentioned, starting a Stihl chainsaw can be a quick and easy process. Here’s a step-by-step process for doing this:

Step 1: Positioning the Chainsaw on a Flat Surface

Before you start the chainsaw, make sure it is placed on a flat, stable surface. This will ensure that the chainsaw is stable and won’t tip over while you’re trying to start it.

Step 2: Setting the Chain Brake

Ensuring the chain brake is engaged is a safety feature that prevents the chain from turning when the chainsaw is not in use. To engage the chain brake, push the left-hand guard forward, which will lock the chain in place.

Step 3: Turning the Fuel Valve to the “On” Position

Next, make sure the fuel valve is in the “on” position before pulling the starter cord. This will allow fuel to flow into the carburetor and start the engine.

Step 4: Pulling the Starter Cord

To start the chainsaw, pull the starter cord with a steady and consistent motion. The starter cord is usually located at the top of the chainsaw, near the handle. Pull the cord with a steady and consistent motion until the chainsaw starts.

Step 5: Adjusting the Choke as Necessary

Depending on the temperature and humidity, you may need to adjust the choke to start the chainsaw. If the chainsaw is cold, the choke should be set to the “on” position, which restricts the flow of air to the carburetor, making it easier to start the chainsaw. Once the chainsaw is running, the choke should be set to the “off” position.

Running a Stihl Chainsaw

Now that you know how to start your Stihl chainsaw, now it’s time to run it following these simple steps:

Step 1: Check the Oil Level

Before you begin cutting, make sure to check the oil level in the reservoir. The oil is used to lubricate the chain and guide bar and is necessary to maintain the chainsaw’s performance and longevity. If the oil level is low, add more oil to the reservoir.

Step 2: Running the Chainsaw at Idle for a Few Minutes

After starting the chainsaw and checking the oil level, allow the chainsaw to run at idle for a few minutes. This will give the engine time to warm up and will also allow you to check for any unusual noises or vibrations.

Step 3: Adjusting the Throttle as Necessary

The throttle controls the speed of the chainsaw’s engine and should be adjusted as needed for the task at hand. For general cutting, the throttle should be set to a medium speed, but you may need to reduce the speed for more precise cuts. To adjust the throttle, use the trigger control located on the chainsaw’s handle.

How to Turn off a Stihl Chainsaw

After you are done using your chainsaw, it is essential to know how to properly shut it off to ensure safety and prolong the tool’s lifespan. Follow these easy steps for shutting off a Stihl chainsaw:

Step 1: Turn off the Fuel Valve 

The first step in shutting off the chainsaw is to turn off the fuel valve. This will prevent fuel from flowing into the carburetor and will stop the engine from running. The fuel valve is usually located near the fuel tank and should be turned to the “off” position.

Step 2: Allow the Chainsaw to Idle for a Few Minutes

After turning off the fuel valve, allow the chainsaw to idle for a few minutes. This will give the engine time to cool down and will also enable any excess fuel to burn off.

Step 3: Turn off the Chainsaw

Once the chainsaw has idled for a few minutes, you can turn it off. The chainsaw should be turned off by switching off the switch or button, usually located on the top of the chainsaw.

Step 4: Engage the Chain Brake

Once your chainsaw is off, make sure to engage the chain brake to prevent the chain from turning.

Step 5: Store the Chainsaw in a Safe and Secure Place

Once the chainsaw is off, make sure to store it in a safe and secure place. This will prevent the chainsaw from being damaged and will also prevent accidents from happening.


In conclusion, starting a c is a process that requires careful attention to detail and adherence to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Each step plays an important role in ensuring your chainsaw’s safe and efficient operation, from checking fuel and oil levels to engaging the chain brake and priming the carburetor.

However, it’s not just about following the proper procedures; it’s also about using caution and wearing the appropriate safety equipment, such as protective goggles and earplugs, at all times when operating a chainsaw.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when using this powerful tool, so be sure to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific information and best practices.


Why is it hard to start my Stihl chainsaw?

It may be difficult to start your Stihl chainsaw if the carburetor is dirty, the gasoline is bad, and the two-stroke oil is of poor quality. 

What to do when the chainsaw won’t start?

The following are possible reasons your chainsaw won’t start:

  • Defective spark plug needs replacement.
  • Defective ignition coil needs replacement.
  • Defective recoil starter needs replacement.
  • Clogged carburetor needs cleaning or replacement.

Do you start a Stihl chainsaw with the brake on?

The chain brake must always be engaged before you start the engine. If you have a primer pump on your saw, pump it a few times to prime the fuel system.

How many pulls should it take to start a chainsaw?

Ensure the choke is in the “off” position, then pull the engine’s crank cord again. The engine should start in 1-3 pulls. Try starting it without using the throttle control unless the manufacturer advises otherwise.

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( Licensed Chainsaw Professional )

Jake is a chainsaws expert with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. He is a licensed professional by the National Chainsaw Program, which attests to his skills and expertise in the safe and efficient use of chainsaws.