How to Start a Chainsaw (Even After a Long Break)


In Brief: How To Start A Chainsaw

To start a chainsaw, activate the chain brake and remove the bar cover. Press the decompression and primer buttons if it has them, then set it to cold-start. Stabilize the saw and fire the engine with the rope. Switch to half-throttle, fire it up, then throttle into idle. Pick it up, release the brake, and check lubrication before use.

Need to know how to safely start your gas chainsaw?

While electric chainsaws have starter buttons, most gas chainsaws start with a pull cord which introduces some safety concerns.

With the correct procedure outlined in this guide, you will be able to quickly and safely start your gas chainsaw.

Read to the end of this guide to discover how to stop your chainsaw and how to hot start your chainsaw after a short break.

How to Start a Chainsaw

How to Start a Chainsaw

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Follow these 15 steps to ensure you start your chainsaw quickly and safely.


  • Chainsaw


    1. Step 1 - Activate the Chain Brake - First, activate the chain brake by pushing it forward. The chain brake can be found in front of the top handle.
    2. Step 2 – Remove the Bar Cover - The bar cover should be on when you are not using the chainsaw but must be removed before you start it.
    3. Step 3 – Activate the Decompression Valve - Many chainsaws have decompression valves to assist with firing the engine. If yours has one, press the button now.
    4. Step 4 – Prime the Engine - Many chainsaws also have primer bulbs. Priming the engine helps with starting, so if yours has one then press it several times now.
    5. Step 5 – Set to Cold-start - You need to set the chainsaw to cold-start mode. Press the trigger lockout and the throttle, then push the master lever all the way down into the choke position.
    6. Step 6 – Get Into Position - Place the chainsaw on the ground so the bar is parallel to the ground. Ensure the bar does not touch the ground.
    7. Step 7 – Ensure Stability - The chainsaw must be stable while starting. Hold the top handle with your left hand and insert your toe into the rear handle to keep the tool steady on the ground.
    8. Step 8 – Pull the Starter Rope - Slowly pull the starter rope until you can feel it begin to catch. Once you do, pull the rope in a fast, vertical motion, avoiding the fan housing. It may take several pulls for the engine to fire, and it will only do so briefly.
    9. Step 9 – Open the Choke - Once the engine has briefly fired, you need to open the choke by moving the master lever up to the half-throttle position, one notch above the cold-start position it was previously in.
    10. Step 10 – Fire Up the Engine - Now pull the starter rope in the same way you did previously until the engine starts. It may take several pulls. As soon as it starts, perform step 11.
    11. Step 11 – Throttle Slightly - When the engine does fire, briefly and immediately press the throttle trigger. The master lever will automatically flip to the idle position and the engine will be running.
    12. Step 12 – Pick It Up - While ensuring that your finger stays off the throttle trigger, slowly pick up the chainsaw by the top handle.
    13. Step 13 – Release the Chain Brake - Now that you are standing with the running chainsaw, release the chain brake by pulling it towards you. Listen for the click of the brake disengaging before throttling slightly to check that the bar can turn.
    14. Step 14 – Check the Lubrication - Now that the bar can turn, you must check the lubrication before use. Hold the chainsaw up to a light surface and throttle up to full. If you can see spots of lubricant on the surface, then you have enough lubricant on the bar.
    15. Step 15 – Ready for Use - You can now use your chainsaw according to your operator’s manual. It may be a good idea to allow the engine to run for a minute so that it warms up, especially in cold weather.

How To Stop The Chainsaw

It is far easier to stop a chainsaw safely than it is to start one, but it is a good idea to follow the proper procedure.

  • Step 1 – Release the Throttle – After you have finished cutting, release the throttle and allow the chain to come to a complete stop.
  • Step 2 – Engage the Brake – Once the chain has come to a complete stop, engage the brake. The brake should always be engaged when you are not actively cutting with the chainsaw.
  • Step 3 – Turn It Off – Flick the on/off switch to the off position. The engine should stop.
  • Step 4 – Allow To Cool – Parts of the chainsaw will remain hot for around 10 minutes after use. Ensure that you put the chainsaw somewhere safe and away from children and pets.

How To Start A Chainsaw After A Short Break

If you need to restart your chainsaw after taking a short break, you can follow the hot-start procedure.

The hot-start procedure follows the same steps as the cold-start procedure, except that you can skip steps 5 and 8. You will start at half-throttle because the engine will already be warm enough.

If the engine does not start, then it means that the engine has cooled too much for a hot start. You will therefore need to follow the full cold-start procedure.

If you want to see both processes in action, including how to operate a manual choke rather than a master lever, check out this video from ECHO USA: 


We hope this guide on how to start a chainsaw has helped you get to grips with your new tool.

Following safety advice when handling chainsaws can save you a great deal of harm, both to you and your tool.

If you have any questions or comments about this guide or how to properly start and stop a chainsaw, please feel free to leave them in the section below.

About Steven

Steven is an engineering graduate with amazing zeal and enthusiasm. He is fascinated by solar power and has set up a small solar plant at his rooftop.

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