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How to start a chainsaw without a pull cord / Start with less muscle power

In this blog post, I will discuss the four best alternatives to crank start the engine of your chainsaw without pulling the cord or make it start easier.

How to start a chainsaw without a pull cord, or start with less muscle power?

There are four different ways to start a chainsaw easier or without pulling the cord:

  1. you can also start your chainsaw with a drill
  2. Spring-assisted starting system
  3. Capacitor discharge ignition (CDI) or Memory power ignition (MPI)
  4. Automatic High idle mechanism

How to start a gas-powered chainsaw?

Before you try to start your gas-powered chainsaw you must perform a maintenance check. You must make sure its spark plug boot is well fitted. You should then refill fresh fuel and oil mixture specialized for four-cycle engines.

Make sure that you have added enough oil as per the recommended level. There are two different methods to start a cold and hot gas-powered chainsaw. To start a COLD gas-powered chainsaw, you must follow the below-given step by step guide:

Step 1:

A cold chainsaw is the one that you are going to start for the first time ever in its lifetime or for the first time on a particular day. You will need the fuel flowing to make the engine warm enough to fire. For your safety, you must first of all, set its chain brake, because, the chain of a gas-powered chainsaw will rotate around its bar as soon as you start the engine.

Step 2:

The engine of gas-powered chainsaw will start smoothly if you give it a burst of fuel. For this, you will have to close the choke to block the flow of fresh air into the engine. Fresh air mixes with the fuel and changes the mixture.

Step 3:

Not all gas-powered chainsaws have a decompression valve. If your chainsaw has this useful feature then press the valve. The decompression valve reduces the pressure inside the combustion chamber of the engine of your chainsaw. It will help you start the engine easily.

Step 4:

Some older models of a gas-powered chainsaw have a primer bulb. The newer models of a gas-powered chainsaw have an air purge bulb instead. You must push the primer bulb 4 to 6 times to send the fuel into the carburetor, which feeds air and fuel to the engine.

When you push the air purge bulb, the unwanted excessive air is pushed out of the fuel lines of your chainsaw.

How to start a hot gas-powered chainsaw?

When you try to start your chainsaw again after it was recently used, the temperature of its engine is still warm, so its spark plug will operate smoothly. Follow the below-given step by step guide to starting a hot gas-powered chainsaw:

Step 1:

Don’t forget to set the chain brake of your chainsaw.

Step 2:

You must close the choke of your chainsaw, set it to “on” or “run” position, as your chainsaw has been running, it already has fuel cycled into its carburetor. Closing the choke is what sets its engine to the high idle position. Moving the lever to the “on” or “run” position opens its chokes, but keeps your engine at high idle, which allows the engine of your chainsaw to run consistently.

Step 3:

Even when your chainsaw is hot, pressing the decompression valve will release any extra pressure inside the carburetor, which will be very helpful to start the engine.

Start your chainsaw with a drill:

Starting the chainsaw using a drill is convenient for elderly DIYers who are no more strong enough to pull the cord too many times with speed.

If the engine of your chainsaw is not convertible from cord start to an electric start then you can start it with an electric drill. For this, you will need a socket that can fit on the nut of your flywheel and a method to attach it to the drill. You must buy a four-inch square head bolt that has a shank that can fit in your drill chuck.

You must grind the bolt head to fit in your socket. Now to start the engine of your chainsaw, you must turn it on. You must then prime its carburetor and then you must fit the socket on the nut of your flywheel.

To do this, you will have to remove the shroud that covers the engine of your chainsaw. Finally, you must operate your drill in its forward position which will start the engine of your chainsaw, quickly.

NOTE: A battery-powered drill is often not enough to start your chainsaw fast enough. In that case, use an electric drill plugged in a wall outlet. Sometimes the bolt will strip out and when you crank up, the bolt can come out.

Spring-assisted starting system:

The spring-assisted starting system can reduce the effort required to start your chainsaw by 40%. Stihl has introduced an innovative Easy2Start technology. Besides Stihl, Husqvarna, PowerKing, Makita, Tanaka, and Poulan also use this technology in their chainsaws. 

It is just one additional spring between the crankshaft and the starter rotor. A spring housing with 2 drive lugs and spring is attached between the rotor and the crankshaft of your gas-powered chainsaw. When you try to start the engine of your chainsaw it tensions the spring against the opposing force created by the pistons of your chainsaw during its compression.

Check here the price of the Makita EA4300F40B spring assisted Chainsaw

When the energy of the pre-tensioned spring is greater than the opposing force created by the piston of your gas-powered chainsaw during its compression, the crankshaft will start to turn and the engine of your chainsaw will fire. The spring-assisted starting system overcomes the engine’s compression to reduce the effort, force, and time needed to start your chainsaw. This spring will automatically release the stored energy to the crankshaft of your chainsaw, and start its engine, quickly and smoothly.

Another chainsaw that is really easy to start is the Husqvarna 445EII. You can check the price here.

Capacitor discharge ignition (CDI) or Memory power ignition (MPI):

A capacitor discharge ignition (CDI) can store an electrical charge and then discharge it into the ignition coil to produce a strong spark from the spark plug of your chainsaw. The ignition is given by the capacitor charge. The capacitor can charge and discharge quickly making it easy for you to start your chainsaw.

CDI works by passing the electrical current over the capacitor. It will build up a charge within a fraction of a second. Your chainsaw will start by generating a charge and storing it before sending it to its spark plug to ignite its engine.

The power will pass through a capacitor to be transferred to the ignition coil that will boost the power by acting as a transformer. It lets the energy go through it fully instead of catching any of it. This system allows the engine of a chainsaw to keep running until there is enough charge in the power source.

CDI consists of a charging coil, flywheel, hall sensor, stator, and timing mark. The charging coil is the coil in the stator. It is used to produce six volts to charge the capacitor of your chainsaw.

According to the movement of the flywheel, a single pulsed power is produced and is sent to the spark plug by the coil to make sure the maximum spark is supplied. The hall sensor measures the hall effect where the flywheel’s magnet changes from the North pole to the South pole. The hall sensor sends a tiny pulse to the capacitor discharge ignition box which will trigger it to dump the energy from the charging capacitor of your chainsaw into its high voltage transformer.

When you rotate the stator plate right and left you will change the trigger point of your capacitor discharge ignition, which will advance or retard the time, respectively.

Memory Power Ignition Technology (MPI):

Memory Power Ignition Technology is the integral function of the easy start system. The capacitor in the ignition coil of your chainsaw collects and stores a slight charge from the revolution of its flywheel during the previous engine operation or start-up. During the starting cycle, the stored power is released to give a powerful spark at a lower flywheel revolution for the easy start process.

Chainsaws manufactured by Blue Max, Makita, and PowerKing use both CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) and MPI (Memory Power Ignition) technologies for an effortless start without pulling the cord. Both Capacitor Discharge Ignition and Memory Power Ignition will provide you with minimum operator resistance, smooth ignition, and minimum wear to the starting assembly of your chainsaw. Both of these technologies produce very strong sparks at even very low revolutions per minute (RPMs) of your chainsaw allowing the ignition coil to fire with minimum revolutions of the flywheel.

Automatic High idle mechanism:

Chainsaws manufactured by Makita and Husqvarna offer an automatic high idle mechanism. If the fuel level in your chainsaw is low or too high, your chainsaw will not have enough power to fire. Too much fuel will lead to flooding which will clog the engine.

Chainsaws with an automatic high idle mechanism will adjust it at the high idle position when its throttle is set so the engine gets just the exact amount of fuel required to start it and keep it running.

How to convert the pull-start of your chainsaw to an electric-start?

Are you tired of getting the small engine of your chainsaw started by pulling its cord? Some models of chainsaws allow you to install a 12-volt electric starter to their engine. Some manufacturers such as Briggs & Straton, Honda, and Kohler, design the engine of their chainsaw to allow you to convert them from pull start to electric start and they do sell the kits for this conversion.

Other manufacturers of chainsaws don’t offer this option. If your chainsaw has a Tecumseh engine, for example, you may or may not be able to turn it from a manual pull cord start to an electric start. The two main things that you will need for an electric start conversion are;

  1. ring gear on the flywheel and,
  2. mounting plates on the flywheel of your chainsaw.

You can fit the flywheel with a ring gear but you cannot do this conversion without mounting the starter to the engine housing of your chainsaw. First of all, you must find out whether your chainsaw can be converted to an electric start by reading the user manual that comes with it. If your chainsaw is convertible, you will see a section about it in your user manual confirming it with basic instructions on how to convert.

The user manual also lists the specific part number of the kit needed for the conversion. You don’t have to install a battery for your chainsaw. New models come with a 120-volt starter with a cord to plug into your wall socket.

Look for a mounting boss on the engine of your chainsaw. The mounting boss must be pre-drilled or pre-machined on the engine of your chainsaw otherwise you can’t mount the starter. Another important requirement is a ring gear on the rim of the flywheel of your chainsaw.

If your flywheel doesn’t have it you must replace your flywheel with the one that has a pre-drilled or pre-machined ring gear on it. After you have found and bought an electric starter that will work with the engine of your chainsaw, and if necessary, after having installed a ring gear on the flywheel, you must mount the starter to the mounting boss on the engine of your chainsaw. They are located such that the cranking gear on the starter aligns with the notches on the flywheel gear. Without this, the conversion is not possible.

How to start an electric chainsaw?

An electric chainsaw is much easier to start if it has been taken care of. You must perform the maintenance task before trying to start your electric chainsaw. For a cordless chainsaw, you must use a backup battery that is fully charged and for the corded chainsaw, you must use a proper extension cord and plug it into a wall outlet.

You must make sure the extension cord is not too short in length and it does not have a small gauge otherwise it will not transfer the proper amount of power through it. The biggest advantage of an electric chainsaw is that you don’t have to pull a cord and it needs minimum effort to get it started. You can start it by just pushing a couple of buttons and there is no throttle to open.

Step No. 1:

First of all, you must disengage the chain brake of your electric chainsaw. The chain of an electric chainsaw will not rotate until you press the trigger, unlike the chain of a gas-powered chainsaw which can rotate even when the engine is idle. The chain of an electric chainsaw will not spin unless you disengage its break.

Step No. 2:

You must press the trigger lockout or the throttle lockout. It is a small safety button located at the side of the rear handle. You can easily press the button with the thumb of the same hand that is holding your electric chainsaw’s handle.

Step No. 3:

While you are still pressing the safety button with your thumb, use your index finger to press the trigger switch. To start the electric chainsaw you must now release the safety button from under your thumb and continue pressing the trigger switch with your index finger. Now you are ready to go chainsawing with your electric saw running successfully.

Some electric chainsaws have a brush inside their motor that is used to conduct electricity. If you are unable to start your electric chainsaw then you must replace the brush inside its motor. You must prefer a brushless electric chainsaw because it is easier to start and needs little maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions:

● How to start the chainsaw in cold weather?

Colder weather or a chainsaw just out of storage can complicate the situation. Here is a piece of useful advice from a forestry forum poster: “If I have not gotten a pop in 4 pulls, I transition to the part throttle, no-choke position and if I have not gotten a start in about eight pulls I return to the choke position for one or two pulls. I am sure this varies with different chainsaws, but you should not have to pull too many times in the choke position, even in cold weather.”

Final Remarks

To conclude this blog post I would say that you must prefer the chainsaw with Spring-assisted starting system, Capacitor discharge ignition (CDI) or Memory power ignition (MPI) technology or Automatic High idle mechanism (Stihl, Husqvarna, PowerKing, Makita, Tanaka, and Poulan), while buying a new one for an easy and convenient start without pulling a cord. You can also start your chainsaw with a drill which also more comfortable than pulling the cord.