Stihl Chainsaw Carburetor Adjustment Guide

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Stihl chainsaws stand out as a premier choice among chainsaw brands, revered by many professionals. However, when they experience a sudden drop in performance, a faulty carburetor often tops the list of usual suspects. 

Tinkering with this component without a clear understanding can be an expensive misstep. So, in this guide, I’ll provide you with an in-depth guide on adjusting the carburetor of a Stihl chainsaw. Let’s dive in!

Three Adjustment Screws Explained

Idle Speed Screw (LA)

The Idle Speed Screw on your carburetor is responsible for controlling the idle RPMs (revolutions per minute) of your chainsaw. 

To control the consumption of the air-fuel mixture that enters the engine in an idle state, loggers use the idle screw to adjust the butterfly valve. Set the screw to an optimum point with a screwdriver and ensure the chainsaw doesn’t die when idling.

Stihl Idle Speed Screw (LA)

When the valve is set too low, it prevents the air and fuel flow, causing the engine to stall. However, when set too high, it can be prone to accidents. A high RPM will force the clutch to engage, even when you do not press the throttle. 

Low-speed Adjustment Screw (L)

When the carburetor is set at low speed, the low-speed adjustment screw controls the amount of fuel that the carburetor allows. It’s easily recognizable with the Letter L mark on your chainsaw. 

Be cautious with this screw; it’s pivotal in regulating fuel flow to the carburetor. If you tighten the L screw excessively, the air-fuel mixture leans out, leading to an unexpected surge in engine RPM. 

On the flip side, if it’s too loose, you’ll end up with a rich mixture, which can cause the engine to stall and the RPM to dip. Speaking from experience, finding that sweet spot is crucial.

High-speed Adjustment Screw (H)

To know the High-Speed Adjustment Screw, look for the screw with the letter H. The H screw on your chainsaw regulates the fuel on your carburetor when the throttle is set. 

Stihl High-speed Adjustment Screw (H)

Over tightening the H screw can hamper the fuel from passing through the card, resulting in lean running engines. Similarly, a loose H screw will reduce the RPM, causing a rich fuel mixture. 

How to Adjust a Stihl Chainsaw's Carburetor

Step #1: Begin by turning the knob counterclockwise to release the air filter cover. It’s essential to keep the air filter clean; I’d recommend washing it gently with soap and water or using compressed air for a thorough cleanse. Always ensure the air filter is completely dry before placing it back onto the carburetor.

Step # 2: Remove the cover of the muffler with a Phillips screwdriver. Use an old toothbrush to clean the spark arrestor screen.

Step #3: Locate the carburetor adjustment screws marked H, L, and I. These are the high-speed, low-speed, and idle adjustment screws.

adjusting chainsaw carburetor

Step #4: To identify the type of carburetor you’re working with, start by adjusting the high and low-speed screws. Turn the L screw clockwise and gauge how much it rotates. If you can make a full circle with it, you’re dealing with a Type A carburetor. 

However, if it doesn’t complete that full turn, you’re looking at a Type B. Knowing this distinction is crucial for accurate adjustments.

Step #5: Turn the H screw counterclockwise and the L screw until both are seated to reset the type A carburetor to its original setting. To adjust a Type B carburetor, follow the same procedure, except you only have to back off the L screw by 1/4 turn. 

Step #6: After starting the chainsaw, adjust the idle screw and allow it to warm up for about five minutes. Turn all screws clockwise with a flathead screwdriver until the chainsaw starts turning again before backing it off 1/4.

How to Adjust Based on Issues

Chainsaw Idling + Not Accelerating

A common problem with Stihl chainsaw carburetors is potential air leaks when the chain isn’t picking up speed. Before diving into adjustments, it’s wise to conduct a vacuum test first. This will help ensure that you’re not dealing with any unnoticed air leaks.

Stihl chainsaw motor

There are also a lot of possible factors why your chainsaw is idling. One of which is damaged clutches. To address such a problem, detach the chain and inspect the assembly. Adjusting the idle screw is also a solution to prevent the chain from spinning when in an idle position. 

Produces Smoke

A faulty fuel delivery system and clogged carburetor can cause your chainsaws to produce smoke when used for operation. The poor idle adjustment will also cause overheating, triggering smoke on your chainsaw

When addressing these issues, you should fine-tune the low-speed adjustment screw until the idle is running smoothly again. I also recommend consulting your chainsaw’s manual during this process to avoid any missteps in the adjustment. It’s always good to have a reference to ensure every adjustment is aligned with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Checking the Stihl Chainsaw Unit Manual

As I mentioned, it’s paramount to refer to your chainsaw’s manual. This will help you understand the standard precautions and ensure that you avoid running into issues with faulty saws during your projects [1]

Stihl chainsaw manual

The manual outlines procedures for adjusting your carburetors properly since chainsaws are created differently, and the parts may vary. 

Stihl Carburetor Adjustment Tools

Different carburetor adjustment tools and sizes are available for tuning your Stihl chainsaw carburetor. The most commonly used driver is the genuine Stihl 4mm Hex Carb. Other alternatives are available if you do not have these tools yet. 

Alternative options include universal carburetor adjustment tools with interchangeable bits, multi-tool sets that include carburetor adjustment tools, hex key sets, and modified screwdrivers or Dremel tools.

It’s important to ensure a proper fit and engage securely with the carburetor adjustment screws. If unsure, seek professional assistance.

Conclusion

In the world of chainsaws, Stihl stands out as a premium brand, and to ensure the longevity of their tools, meticulous care is paramount. As woodworkers, mastering the nuances of Stihl chainsaw carburetor adjustment is crucial. 

It’s not just about the quality of the projects; overlooking this essential step could lead to unexpected mishaps, and in some cases, serious accidents. Always prioritize safety and knowledge for a seamless woodworking experience.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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