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

Looking at how to start a chainsaw in movies or do-it-yourself TV shows seems easy. Until you get to the part where you have to operate it by yourself. Believe me; it’s not as simple as it looks like.

A chainsaw is one of the most useful yet dangerous hardware materials you can own. However, it can cause fatal injuries when it is not used correctly. Knowing the step-by-step procedure of how to start a chainsaw is a must especially if you’re using it for the first time.

Step 1: Know the Safety Features of Your Chainsaw First

To be able to safely handle a chainsaw, you must first know the basic parts of a chainsaw. The most important and primary parts to be familiar with, have to do with the safety of handling a chainsaw.

1) Chain Brake – It is located on the top handle of the chainsaw. It is used to stop the chain of the chainsaw from rotating around the bar. A chain brake can be operated in two ways.

First, you can push the handle of the chainsaw forward. The other way is to simply stay in a stationary position when the saw kicks back. This is important to keep in mind especially if you do not regularly use a chainsaw.

A chainsaw ‘kick back’ occurs when the uppermost tip of the chainsaw comes in contact with something and automatically moves in an upward and backward motion towards the user.

2) Throttle Lock – This is located on the top of the rear handle. Its function is to prevent accidental throttle acceleration. The throttle lock is handled by squeezing the throttle lock control. Afterward, push the throttle lock downward.

3) Chain Catcher – This is located on the bottom of the chainsaw. The chain catcher is one of the major safety features of a chainsaw because it stops the chain from flying off the bar in case it breaks or comes loose.

4) Right-Hand Guard – This is located at the bottom of the upper handle. Its function is to shield your hand from the chainsaw in the event that the chain breaks or comes loose from its track.

5) Stop Control – The stop control is located differently for different models of chainsaws. To know where the stop control of your chainsaw is located, simply check the owner’s manual.

The stop control allows the chainsaw to stop operating abruptly once the control is handled.


Step 2:  Do a Quick Check to Make Sure That Everything is set

Make sure that everything is in position especially the chain, saw teeth, lubrication and tensioning before starting up you chainsaw. Tractor Supply Co. suggests a few tips to remember before powering up your chainsaw:

  • Make sure that the chain of your chainsaw is sharpened prior to usage because chainsaws run more smoothly when the chainsaw chain is sharped nicely.
  • Remember to load your chainsaw with just the right amount of fuel. Secure the chainsaw on a flat surface when reloading fuel.
  • After using your chainsaw of a couple of hours, reapply proper tension around the bar.
  • Check the oil level of the chainsaw to make sure that there is still enough to lubricate the engine, bar and chain.

Step 3: You Should be Ready to Fire up Your Chainsaw by now

After being oriented in the first two steps on the other aspects you need to know on how to start a chainsaw, now you can already power up your chainsaw. It may require a little patience especially if it is your first time. Simply follow the steps below:

  1. Make sure to keep your distance from other people. It would be wise to be at least 15 feet away from others in case something goes wrong.
  2. Place the chainsaw on a flat surface on the ground. Ensure that the area around the bar is vacant.
  3. Thrust the kick back protection forward to turn on the chain brake. This should be done to assure that the chain does not start revolving when you fire up the engine.
  4. For chainsaws that have a decompression control, push it. It will help the saw to start.
  5. Check whether the chainsaw is cold. If it is and the chainsaw has not been running for the past two to three hours, find the choke and pull it out as far as it will go.
  6. After placing the chainsaw firmly secure on the ground, put your right foot through the rear handle to stabilize the saw and hold the top handle of the saw using your left hand. Then pull the starter with your right hand in a quick motion.
  7. Pull the starter cord slowly, until the chainsaw starts resisting. Once you feel it resisting, start pulling quickly while securely holding on to the starter handle. Repeat this until the chainsaw starts.
  8. Do not release the chain brake until you are actually ready to start sawing.
  9. Turn off the choke and hit the decompression button if your saw has one. Your chainsaw will not run if the choke is turned. It will start for a few seconds but eventually fizzle.


While your chainsaw is running, also make sure to check whether the chain brake is working and that the chain oil is flowing properly.

Now you know the steps on how to start a chainsaw, you can proceed to practice safe cutting and tree felling techniques.