This picture guide walks through the detailed step-by-step instructions I use for starting a Stihl MS291 chainsaw.

Note: Use all of the proper safety precautions as laid out in the Stihl Owners Manual.

I’ve had this saw for over 6 years now and I use the following method to start it and it works every time. This particular saw has even been through a rebuilt cylinder, so it has seen its fair share of tough days.

Starting the Engine of a Stihl MS291 – MS271 Chainsaw

These are the steps to start a Stihl 291 and 271 chainsaw:

  1. Fill the saw with mixed gas and bar oil
  2. Set the chain brake
  3. Remove the scabbard
  4. While holding the throttle trigger lockout and the throttle trigger, press the master control lever all the way down.
  5. Lay the saw on the ground and put your foot into the rear handle to secure it.
  6. With your left hand on the handlebar, pull the starter rope with your right hand several times until the saw fires briefly.
  7. Push the Master Control lever up one click to open the choke.
  8. Pull the starter rope again until the engine fires.
  9. Squeeze and release the throttle trigger to disengage the choke.
  10. Release the chain brake.
  11. The chainsaw is now ready to go.

Detailed Procedure to Start a Chainsaw

The following is a more detailed description of how to start a Stihl chainsaw, including pictures and references. For all the details, check out the STIHL MS291 Owner’s Manual.

Step 1: Fill the Saw With Fluids

Before starting the saw make sure the fluids are topped off, or at least make sure you have more bar oil than gas. You want to run out of gas before you run out of bar and chain oil, so that you’re never running the chain with no bar oil.

Always use 50:1 mixed gas with these saws. That’s 2.6oz of 2-cycle oil per gallon of gas. Although Stihl says that gas with up to 10% ethanol is okay, I recommend avoiding ethanol gas whenever possible to preserve the life of the saw. And for sure do not leave ethanol gas in the tank for more than 30 days as it has a tendency to separate.

Step 2: Set the Chain Brake

As a safety precaution, set the chain brake. Press forward on the brake handle until it clicks. The saw will still start without performing this step, so this is done mainly for the safety aspects.

stihl-chainsaw-set-chain-brake

Step 3: Remove the Scabbard

If you have a bar cover of some kind, remove it at this time.

Step 4: Set the Master Control Lever to Full Choke

While holding the throttle trigger lockout and the throttle trigger, press the master control lever all the way down.

This is important – hold both the throttle trigger and the top safety button (long black button on the top of the handle) at the same time, while you set full choke!

Stihl-control-lever-setting-full-choke

Once you have it set, the control lever will be in this position.

stihl-control-lever-full-choke

Step 5: Secure the Saw with Your Foot

Lay the saw on the ground and put your foot into the rear handle to secure it.

Step 6: Pull the Starter Rope

With your left hand on the handlebar, pull the starter rope with your right hand.

Starting-a-stihl-chainsaw-pull-rope

Pull the starter rope several times until the saw fires briefly. When the saw fires briefly then quits, that is your indication that the fuel lines are properly primed, so move on to the next step.

Step 7: Set the Choke to Half-Open

Push the Master Control lever up one click to open the choke.

Stihl-control-lever-half-choke

Step 8: Pull the Starter Rope Until the Saw Starts

Pull the starter rope again until the engine fires.

Step 9: Squeeze the Throttle to Disengage the choke

Squeeze and release the throttle trigger briefly to disengage the choke.

Stihl-control-lever-hold-throttle

Then the control lever will pop up one click to the “ON” position.

Stihl-control-lever-on

Step 10: Release the Chain Brake

Press the chain brake lever back toward the handle to disengage the brake. The chain will now move with the throttle trigger is pulled.

stihl-chainsaw-release-chain-brake

The chainsaw is now ready to go.

To stop the chainsaw, move the control lever to the “OFF” (“0”) position.

Stihl-Control-Lever-Off

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Is your Stihl MS291 or MS271 still not starting? Check out the Practical Mechanic Stihl troubleshooting guide for a Stihl chainsaw that won’t start including the diagnostics to go through to find the problem!

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