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How To Start a Stihl Chainsaw

Starting a Stihl chainsaw involves a series of steps to ensure proper and safe operation. The following is a general guide to help you start your Stihl chainsaw.

Fluid Levels and Condition

Ensure the chainsaw has sufficient fuel and bar oil for operation. Inspect the chainsaw for damage or faults prior to operation. This includes checking chain tension and clearing any obstructions in the chain or sprocket area.

Safety Gear

Put on the necessary safety gear, including safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves, and appropriate clothing.

Chain Brake

Engage the chain brake by pushing it forward until it clicks into place. This prevents the chain from moving while starting the chainsaw.

On / Off Switch

Move the on / off switch to the "ON" position. This is often marked with an I.

Note: On many Stihl chainsaws the on / off switch is part of the choke lever and setting the lever to full choke engages the start position.


If the engine is cold, set the choke. The choke helps with the initial startup by enriching the fuel mixture. Move the lever to choke postion. Choke lever style varies depending on the Stihl chainsaw model design. Once the engine starts, move the choke lever to run postion.

Primer Bulb

If equipped, press the primer bulb several times. This helps to get fuel into the carburetor for easier starting.

Decompression Valve

If equipped, press the decompression valve button on top of the cylinder to reduce effort required to turn over engine during starting procedure. This valve temporarily reduces compression in the combustion chamber during starting. The valve will close automatically once the chainsaw has started. 

Starting Procedure

Place the chainsaw on a flat surface.
Place your foot through the rear handle to stabilize the chainsaw.
Firmly grip the front handle with your left hand.
Place your right foot on the rear handle.
Pull the starter cord slowly until you feel resistance, then give it a strong, quick pull.
If the chainsaw does not start after several pulls, disengage choke to prevent flooding.

Chainsaw Starter Handle


Once the engine fires, let it warm up for a few moments. If you used the choke, move the choke to run position.

Engine warm up is always advised to prevent premature cylinder wear or damage.

Disengage Chain Brake

Disengage the chain brake by pulling the chain brake handle towards you. 

The chainsaw is now ready for use.

Throttle Control

Squeeze the throttle trigger to increase the engine speed and disengage the idle speed.

Shut Off

To turn off the chainsaw, move the on/off switch to the "OFF" position.

Always refer to the specific model's instruction manual that came with your Stihl chainsaw for detailed instructions, as starting procedures may vary slightly between models. Additionally, ensure you follow all safety guidelines provided by Stihl and use the appropriate fuel mixture for your chainsaw.

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