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Is It Safe To Start a Chainsaw Without a Bar and Chain?

Is It Safe To Start a Chainsaw Without a Bar and Chain?

Starting a chainsaw without a bar or chain is not safe, as both are important for all the safety measures to function properly. If you want to use your chainsaw as a prop, you should not run it for more than a minute. 

This article will explain how your chainsaw’s bar and chain work and how to safely start a chainsaw.

How To Safely Start a Chainsaw

Before I get into the safety tips when starting a chainsaw, I think it’s worth discussing how the bar and chain contribute to a chainsaw’s safe operation.

Essentially, the bar and chain on a chainsaw are what do the cutting (source). The bar is the part you hold, and it has teeth on it called “chain saw file” or “cutting teeth.” The chain is what moves as you cut, and it connects to the motor.

The bar is curved and moves back and forth as you pull on it. When you pull on the bar, the chain rotates around the motor sprocket and pulls against the wood. The wood then gets pulled into the teeth at a very high rate of speed of 60 miles per hour (96.56 km/h) on some models (source). 

This causes friction between the wood and tooth that heats up both pieces of material so much that they melt together into one solid piece as they pass through each other. Without these two things, starting your saw isn’t safe. 

As you can see, chainsaws are great tools for cutting wood, but they can also be dangerous. Luckily, starting a chainsaw safely isn’t rocket science, as the tips below will show. 

Inspect Your Chainsaw Before Every Use

Before you even start your chainsaw, you need to do the following: 

  • Check the oil level. Ensure there’s enough oil in your chainsaw. 
  • Check the fuel level and type of gas used. If you’re working near trees, keep an eye out for spilled gas. This could lead to an explosion if ignited by sparks from your chainsaw.
  • Check the chain tension before starting the engine (source). If there’s too much tension on the chain, it could break off mid-use and cause serious injury.
  • Check each part thoroughly. Ensure all connections between parts (such as cables)  are tight enough so they don’t slip off during use. Also, check things like the bearings and drums to ensure they’re in place and lubricated properly. You should also inspect your chainsaw clutch and anti-vibration hardware. 

Wear Adequate Safety Gear

When you’re operating a chainsaw, you need to watch out for things like sparks, flying debris, noise, and — of course — the rapidly spinning blades of the chainsaw itself. Therefore, safety gear is a must before you start any job that involves a chainsaw (source).

Specifically, you need to have:

  • Hearing protection: Invest in a decent pair of earmuffs or earplugs. Otherwise, the loud noise from chainsaws can do a number on your ears and cause permanent hearing loss.
  • Eye protection: Safety goggles can protect your eyes from sparks and flying debris.
  • Gloves (or similar protection for your hands): Wear gloves to keep your hands safe from spinning metal parts like the chain or blade. If you don’t have gloves handy, you can also use cardboard or similar materials as a barrier between your skin and the sharp parts of the saw.
  • Chainsaw chaps: If you’re planning on using a chainsaw for any extended period, it might be worth investing in chainsaw chaps, which are like denim coveralls with special protection for your legs. They’re useful for working around moving machinery, and also help prevent burns if hot metal gets flung onto your leg while cutting through logs or branches.

Use the Chain Brake

When using a chainsaw, keeping the chain brake engaged is important. A chain brake is a device that stops the power saw’s blade from spinning (source). This allows you to cut material without worrying about accidentally cutting yourself. It also allows you to safely release your grip on the handlebar.

Use the Front Handlebar

Hold the front handlebar of the chainsaw with your left hand so your thumb is resting along the top of it. Then, with your right hand, hold onto part of the rear handlebar.

The safest places to start a chainsaw are holding it in between your legs or on the ground, as this video shows:

Chainsaw Basics: How to Start a Gas Chainsaw

These positions will help you keep injuries to a minimum in case things get out of control. 

Start the Engine Properly

Starting a chainsaw isn’t just pulling the cord and letting it run wild. There are steps you need to take not only to ensure safety but also to make sure your chainsaw runs as efficiently as possible.

Here’s how to start the engine of a chainsaw:

  1. Pull the choke out until it clicks into place, and then pull the starter cord gently to warm up the engine. The cord should be pulled gently, not too hard, or you might kick the saw back into your face. Keep your free hand away from the chain while pulling on the starter cord. Once you’ve pulled on the starter cord until you hear a popping sound and feel resistance against your hand, stop pulling immediately.
  2. Control the throttle. If you followed the previous step correctly, the choke should already be in place. If not, push in on it and pull out until it clicks into place. 
  3. Squeeze down on both sides of the throttle trigger and hold it while pulling back with your other hand on its grip handle. This will allow you to control how fast or slow your chainsaw runs and how much power each pull of its corded motor uses.
  4. Keep control of the chainsaw. If you’re not holding on to the chainsaw, it will be much more difficult to maintain control and may kick back when you use it for the first time.

This video gives a visual of this process:

Chapter 9: Starting Your STIHL Chain Saw | STIHL Tutorial


A bar and chain are important safety features on your chainsaw. You shouldn’t use your chainsaw without these two. The most important thing is to take your time and make sure you’re in a safe place before starting the engine to ensure utmost safety. 

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