Do You Start a Chainsaw with the Brake On? Find Out Here

As an experienced chainsaw user, I understand that safety should always be the top priority when operating such powerful equipment. Chainsaws can be dangerous if not used correctly, so it’s essential to know the ins and outs of your tool before starting it up. Starting a chainsaw with the brake on is a topic that often comes up among users, and this article aims to answer that question and provide valuable information for safe and efficient chainsaw operation.

So, do you start a chainsaw with the brake on? The answer is yes, you should start a chainsaw with the chain brake engaged. This ensures that the chain does not accidentally begin rotating while you’re starting the engine, preventing potential injuries. By following the guidelines and tips outlined in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to operate your chainsaw safely and effectively. So, let’s dive into the details and learn more about chainsaw brakes, starting procedures, and maintenance.

What is a Chainsaw Brake and Its Purpose?

A chainsaw brake, also known as a chain brake, is a crucial safety feature found on modern chainsaws. Its primary function is to stop the chain from rotating in case of a sudden kickback or when the operator applies it manually. This helps prevent potential injuries to the user and damage to the chainsaw itself. In essence, the chainsaw brake acts as an emergency stop mechanism that enhances safety during operation.

The chainsaw brake operates through a combination of mechanical and electronic components. When activated, the brake applies pressure on the clutch drum, which then stops the chain from spinning. This process is typically triggered by either a sudden movement of the chainsaw (kickback) or by the operator manually engaging the brake. Understanding how the chainsaw brake works can help users better appreciate the importance of this safety feature and ensure its proper use.

According to a study conducted by the Swedish Work Environment Authority, the use of a chainsaw brake reduced the risk of injury by 50%. This statistic highlights the significance of the chainsaw brake in maintaining a safe working environment. By familiarizing oneself with this essential component, chainsaw users can operate their equipment with increased confidence and safety.

How to Safely Start a Chainsaw

Starting a chainsaw safely is crucial to prevent accidents and ensure a smooth operation. Proper starting techniques not only enhance safety but also contribute to the longevity of your chainsaw. In this section, we will discuss the recommended steps to start a chainsaw safely and efficiently.

Pros and Cons of Starting a Chainsaw with the Brake On
Pros and Cons of Starting a Chainsaw with the Brake On

Step-by-step guide to starting a chainsaw:

  1. Engage the chain brake: Before starting the chainsaw, always engage the chain brake by pushing the front handguard forward. This prevents the chain from rotating during the starting process.
  2. Place the chainsaw on a flat surface: Position the chainsaw on a stable, flat surface with no obstacles nearby. Ensure that the bar and chain are not in contact with anything.
  3. Activate the choke: If the engine is cold, pull out the choke control. For a warm engine, leave the choke control pushed in.
  4. Press the decompression valve (if available): Some chainsaws feature a decompression valve to make starting easier. Press it before pulling the starter rope.
  5. Press the primer bulb: Press the primer bulb a few times to supply fuel to the carburetor, making the engine easier to start.
  6. Hold the chainsaw securely: Firmly place one foot in the rear handle and grasp the front handle with one hand. Use your other hand to pull the starter rope.
  7. Pull the starter rope: Gently pull the starter rope until you feel resistance, then give it a sharp, forceful pull. Repeat this process until the engine starts.
  8. Adjust the choke: Once the engine starts, push the choke control back in and let the chainsaw idle for a few moments before using it.

By following these steps, you can ensure a safe and successful chainsaw start-up every time. Remember to always read the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific chainsaw model, as some models may have unique starting procedures.

Pros and Cons of Starting a Chainsaw with the Brake On

Starting a chainsaw with the brake on is generally recommended as it offers several benefits. However, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. In this section, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of starting a chainsaw with the chain brake engaged.


  • Safety: Engaging the chain brake before starting the chainsaw prevents the chain from rotating unexpectedly, reducing the risk of injuries.
  • Control: With the brake on, the operator has better control over the chainsaw during the starting process, ensuring a smooth and stable start-up.
  • Reduced wear: By preventing the chain from spinning when starting the engine, you can minimize unnecessary wear on the chain and other components.


  • Difficulty in starting: Some users may find it more challenging to start a chainsaw with the brake on, as the added resistance can make pulling the starter rope more difficult.
  • Potential damage: If the chainsaw is repeatedly started with the brake on but without proper technique, it could cause increased wear and tear on the brake system over time.

While there are some potential downsides to starting a chainsaw with the brake on, the safety benefits outweigh the cons. It is essential to weigh these factors and follow best practices for starting a chainsaw, ensuring both safe operation and the longevity of your equipment.

Common Chainsaw Starting Issues and Solutions

Chainsaws, like any mechanical equipment, can sometimes experience starting problems. Understanding the common issues and their solutions can help you troubleshoot and get your chainsaw up and running again. In this section, we will discuss some typical chainsaw starting problems and provide tips for resolving them.

Flooded Engine

A flooded engine occurs when too much fuel enters the engine, making it difficult to start. To fix this issue, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the choke and remove the spark plug.
  • Pull the starter rope several times to clear excess fuel from the engine.
  • Dry the spark plug and reinstall it.
  • Attempt to restart the chainsaw without engaging the choke.

Faulty Spark Plug

A damaged or worn-out spark plug can lead to starting difficulties. Inspect the spark plug for damage, corrosion, or deposits. If needed, clean or replace the spark plug.

Clogged Carburetor

A clogged carburetor can prevent fuel from reaching the engine, resulting in starting problems. Cleaning the carburetor with a carburetor cleaner spray can often resolve this issue. If the problem persists, consider taking your chainsaw to a professional for service.

Damaged Starter Rope or Recoil Mechanism

If the starter rope is broken or the recoil mechanism is damaged, the chainsaw will not start. Inspect these components for damage and replace them if necessary.

By becoming familiar with these common chainsaw starting issues and their solutions, you can quickly diagnose and resolve any problems you may encounter. This knowledge will help ensure that your chainsaw remains in good working order and ready for use whenever you need it.

Tips for Proper Chainsaw Maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential to keep your chainsaw in optimal working condition and extend its lifespan. By taking care of your chainsaw, you can ensure that it performs efficiently, safely, and reliably every time you use it. In this section, we will discuss some essential tips for proper chainsaw maintenance.

  • Clean the chainsaw: After each use, clean your chainsaw thoroughly to remove debris, dirt, and sawdust. Pay special attention to the air filter, cooling fins, and chain brake.
  • Inspect the chain: Regularly check the chain for signs of wear, damage, or stretching. Replace the chain if necessary and keep it properly tensioned and sharp.
  • Lubricate the bar and chain: Always use the recommended bar and chain oil to keep these components well-lubricated and prevent excessive wear.
  • Check the spark plug: Inspect the spark plug for damage or deposits and replace it if necessary. A clean and functioning spark plug ensures efficient combustion and smooth engine operation.
  • Clean the fuel system: Empty the fuel tank at the end of the season and clean it with a brush. Replace the fuel filter and inspect the fuel lines for cracks or damage.
  • Service the carburetor: If your chainsaw exhibits poor performance or starting issues, consider having the carburetor serviced by a professional.
  • Store the chainsaw properly: When not in use, store your chainsaw in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

By following these maintenance tips, you can help ensure that your chainsaw remains in good working order and is ready for use whenever needed. Proper maintenance also contributes to safe operation and can prevent potential accidents caused by malfunctioning equipment.


In summary, starting a chainsaw with the brake on is essential for ensuring safety and preventing accidents. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can confidently start and operate your chainsaw while minimizing potential risks. Proper maintenance and understanding of common chainsaw issues will also contribute to the longevity and efficiency of your equipment.

We hope this article has provided valuable information to help you safely operate your chainsaw and keep it in optimal working condition. With the right knowledge and practices, you can enjoy using your chainsaw with confidence and a smile on your face.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

1Q: Can I start a chainsaw without engaging the chain brake?

A: While it’s possible, it’s strongly recommended to engage the chain brake before starting a chainsaw for safety reasons.

2Q: How often should I sharpen my chainsaw chain?

A: Sharpen the chain whenever it starts to produce smaller chips or dust instead of long, clean wood shavings.

3Q: What type of oil should I use for my chainsaw bar and chain?

A: Use a high-quality bar and chain oil specifically designed for chainsaws.

4Q: How do I know if my chainsaw chain is too loose or tight?

A: A properly tensioned chain should have a slight gap between the chain and the bottom of the guide bar when pulled down.

5Q: Can I use regular motor oil as bar and chain oil for my chainsaw?

A: It’s not recommended, as motor oil lacks the necessary properties for proper lubrication and can cause increased wear on your chainsaw.

6Q: How often should I replace the fuel filter on my chainsaw?

A: Replace the fuel filter at least once a year or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

7Q: How do I store my chainsaw during the off-season?

A: Drain the fuel, remove the chain and bar, clean the chainsaw thoroughly, and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

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