How to Start a Chainsaw

Aug 20, 2018 | Blog

Chainsaws are a very handy tool in today’s world. They help with clearing fallen trees or cutting limbs that are hanging too low. We all use chainsaws or have seen somebody using them because of their usefulness.

However, there’s a first for everybody. You don’t hop in a car and immediately know to drive. You don’t know how to operate any piece of machinery the first time you use it. When it comes to chainsaws, it’s no different and figuring out how to start them can be complicated for somebody who has never done so before.

We’ve all had our first times dealing with chainsaws. Some of us tried to start one up for an hour before realizing it was out of gas. Others have struggled to pull the starter rope up, so it is a learning experience. We want to make that learning experience easier on you though.

That’s why we’re here! We’ve put together a quick guide for you on how to start a chainsaw. Once you read this, you’ll be able to head outside and crank up that chainsaw of yours without any issue. Just make sure there’s gas in it first. Now, let’s get started!

First Off

Before you go any further, stop and take some time to read your chainsaw’s manual as each chainsaw brand is different. This task is something that many of us skip over because we deem it boring or unnecessary. However, it is very important that you read up on your chainsaw before trying to use it.

Your manual will explain how to handle your chainsaw, how to fuel it, how to start and stop it, etc. It is a key piece of information that should not be overlooked. We encourage you to read it, so you don’t wind up hurting yourself later with your chainsaw since you didn’t know what you were doing.

Next, ensure you are wearing your protective gear. Your chainsaw’s manual will also highlight that you should wear your protective gear such as gloves and protective glasses. This will protect you in case of an accident while operating your chainsaw. Be sure you’ve got that gear on before proceeding!

Start ‘Em up

Now that you have read your manual and you’re wearing your protective gear, we can get down to how to start your chainsaw. In just a few short steps, you’ll have a running chainsaw, and you can get down to doing that yard work.

The first thing you’ll want to do is engage your chain brake. You do this by pushing forward on your top handle guard. The chain brake is designed to stop the chain immediately if anything goes wrong while operating the chainsaw.

Once you’ve done this, you may now remove the cover over the guide bar. This is there to ensure your safety, and you should only remove it once you’re ready to start it up. This should easily slide off the guide bar, and you may set it to the side once removing it.

After you’ve engaged the chain brake, you’ll want to set your ignition switch to the “on” position. Next, turn your choke on. Be sure to check back to your manual about this step. Some chainsaws vary with how to use the choke properly.

Following that step, you may now use your primer pump. A general rule of thumb is to press it 2-3 times at first to ensure a quicker startup. However, we do warn you not to press your primer pump too often. You don’t want to choke your engine of your chainsaw. Press it a few times at first and then a few more, but that should be plenty. Some chainsaws do not have a primer pump so be sure you read your manual to know if you have one and where it is located.

Now, we move on to the decompression switch. Push this as it will make it easier to start up the chainsaw by providing less resistance on the starter handle.

This next step is very important. You need to have your chainsaw in a stable position. The best thing to do is have it laying on the ground. Once it’s on the ground, place your foot through the handle for extra support. If you do not have your chainsaw in a firm position, you risk the chain blunting against the ground and possibly kicking back towards you during start-up.

Next, we’ll grab the starter rope. Pull it slowly at first until you feel some resistance. Once you feel that resistance, pull up hard. If it does not start with the first pull, allow the rope to recoil before pulling again. Once it has fully recoiled, pull the rope until you feel that resistance, and then pull hard again.

Once it starts up, turn your choke off and reset the decompression switch if your chainsaw had one. If not, then no need to worry.

Finally, release the chain brake. You’re now in business!


Sometimes, starting a chainsaw up can take some time. If you are having an issue with any of the steps we listed, be sure to look back at your manual first. You’ll then want to start back a step before you had the issue. However, we warn you not to press the primer pump, if your chainsaw has one, too often. Three times should be plenty for a normal chainsaw. Don’t risk pushing it anymore.

Once you’ve got your chainsaw started, you’re now free to get to work with it. Be sure to follow proper safety guidelines while operating your chainsaw and never try to “play” with it. Chainsaws are extremely dangerous and should be approached with the utmost care. While working with it, be sure to follow the instructions of your owner’s manual and stay focused while using it.

Now that you’ve started it up once, you’re almost a professional! The next time will prove much easier to start it up and so on and so forth. We hope this guide on how to start a chainsaw has proved helpful to you. If it has, be sure to let us know!

John McDonald

Chainsaw Expert for

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