How to Start a Chainsaw

While at first glance, how to start a chainsaw might seem extremely self-explanatory, one must remember that we are all novices at anything when we first start out. What might seem like incredibly common knowledge to one person could be an extremely complicated scenario for another.

Thankfully, starting a chainsaw doesn’t fall into the category of “extremely complicated scenario.” However, that doesn’t mean that starting one is an entirely straightforward process that anyone can figure out straight away either.


It’s important to know precisely how to safely start operating a chainsaw. This is particularly true for first-time chainsaw owners who may (understandably) be feeling a bit nervous about using the machine. After all, accidents can and do happen.

With that being said, before we explain how to safely start using your chainsaw, we wanted to go over a few general safety tips that one should keep in mind before even considering starting up a chainsaw.

Basic safety tips to follow before using a chainsaw

gas powered chainsaw safetyThe following list provides some general safety tips to follow before using your chainsaw. They all help to reduce the risk of an accident occurring that could result in serious injury or even death. Always, always make sure to take a few moments to ensure you are following proper safety precautions.

  • Always make sure that the area you will be working in has been prepared and is completely safe to work in (for example, gas powered chainsaws produce toxic fumes and therefore should never be used in an enclosed space with poor ventilation)
  • Double check the floor of your workspace; wet floors can cause you to slip which can be deadly when holding a running chainsaw
  • Make sure anyone else nearby remains at a safe distance
  • Be sure that you are wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep yourself safe
  • At a minimum for your PPE, you should have a hard hat, safety goggles, steel-toed work boots with non-slip soles, heavy-duty protective gloves, and some form of hearing protection
  • Double check that your chainsaw chain is clear of debris from prior usage before starting it up

By following these general safety tips, you can drastically reduce the risk of an accident taking place. Once you have made sure that your working area is safe and everything else listed above is checked, you are free to start up your machine. Read on to see exactly how to start the chainsaw up with step-by-step instructions.


Step-by-step guide: How to start a chainsaw

chainsaw safety tips and starting a chainsawWhether this is your first time operating a chainsaw, or you simply need a refresher because you have misplaced your instruction manual, the following tutorial will show you everything that you need to know in order to safely start a chainsaw. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

  • Ensure that you have followed all of the proper safety precautions listed above
  • Activate the chain brake on your chainsaw by pushing it forward and remove the bar cover (if applicable)
  • If your chainsaw comes with a decompression valve, go ahead and press it to assist with firing the engine and starting the machine
  • Likewise, if your chainsaw is equipped with a primer bulb, press it several times now; this will help to reduce the number of pulls needed to start
  • Press the throttle trigger lockout and the throttle trigger; next push the master control lever all the way down in order to set the machine to “Choke/Cold Start”
  • Lay the chainsaw down on a flat surface while keeping the chain bar elevated so it doesn’t end up blunted
  • Place one hand on the handlebar and your other hand on the starter rope
  • Slowly pull out the starter rope until you feel a slight amount of resistance; then pull it hard multiple times until the engine fires briefly
  • After the initial engine firing, move the master control lever up a single notch to open the choke
  • Pull the starter rope once again until the engine fires again and immediately touch the throttle trigger with your index finger; this will move the master control lever into the idle position
  • Lift the chainsaw up off the ground, ensuring that you do not touch the throttle trigger again
  • Release the chain brake by pulling the bar back towards your body until you hear a clicking noise; at this point the chain has been released and you may turn on the bar
  • Before beginning work, check the chain lubrication by holding the bar against a light colored background and fully open the throttle; if chain lubricant appears on the background you are all set to begin to work

Your chainsaw is now ready for use; ensure you follow proper safety precautions while operating it.


Hopefully, by following this how-to guide, you feel comfortable and confident with starting up your chainsaw even if you are a first-time user. We totally understand that some people might not know how to properly start one, especially if they have acquired their first chainsaw second hand and might not have access to the original instruction manual anymore.

By making sure that you follow all of the recommended safety precautions before and during use, while also taking the time to safely follow all of the instructions above, anyone should be able to use a chainsaw with zero issues. The only other things to keep in mind going forward is to always make sure that you follow basic maintenance procedures, keep your chainsaw properly cleaned and the chain sharp as well to ensure you don’t run into any issues later on.

If after reading this you still feel insecure about starting up a chainsaw, or you are intimidated by them, why not consider an electric or battery operated one. They will be less powerful, but nowadays the difference is getting smaller and smaller. And their capacity will most likely be enough for your use as a homeowner.