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How to Operate A Brushcutter

From pre-use checklists to basic operation techniques and storage tips
STIHL trimmers are known for their ability to cut weeds and overgrown grass, but they can do much more. With optional interchangeable cutting heads, you can turn your STIHL trimmer into a power brushcutting machine.

For more information specific to your model, view the product instruction manuals.

Pre-Use Checklist

  • Switch off the engine completely and allow it to cool before refueling
  • Check working environment for any hazards
  • Keep a safe distance from other people (50 feet or more)
  • Ensure attachments are mounted correctly and securely
  • Adjust the harness and handle(s) to suit your height

Personal Protective Equipment Checklist

  • Brush Shield Protector - To reduce the risk of injury, wear goggles or properly fitted glasses, face shield or face screen, and an approved safety hard hat.
  • Hearing Protection - To help protect your hearing, wear sound barriers like ear plugs or ear mufflers.
  • Gloves - To help protect your hands, always wear heavy-duty work gloves, made of leather or other wear-resistant material.
  • Leg Protection - To help protect your legs, wear long pants made of heavy material.
  • Protective Boots - To help maintain good footing, wear sturdy boots with nonslip soles. Steel-toes safety boots are recommended.

Brushcutter Starting Procedure

  • Start in a well-ventilated area.
  • Move at least 10 feet away from your refueling spot
  • Press the primer bulb at least 5 times (if you have a primer bulb)
  • Use choke if the engine is cold
  • Make sure you have secure footing
  • Ensure the cutting attachment is not touching anything
  • Start your brushcutter

Mowing Techniques

Basic Technique

Because the cutting attachment rotates counter-clockwise, a right-to-left cutting motion is recommended. The advantage of this method is that the trimmings fall on the cut area.

Trimming for Long Grass

When working in very long grass or tough weeds, two passes are recommended. An initial pass, right to left, cuts the top of the grass. Then, a lower pass, left to right, removes the remaining grass. The trimmings will discard to the left.

Mowing Large, Flat Areas

The best way to cut large areas is to use the square method. Divide the area to be mown into squares, and then work along the outsides toward the center.

Mowing on a Hill - The Strip Method

The strip method is a good way to mow a slope. Cut a strip parallel to the slope, and then return along the swath. Then cut the next strip above and repeat.

Trimming Around Obstacles

The "mowing line" created by the trimmer is the best way of navigating right up to trees or bushes without damaging them. If several plants are growing close together, try to clear around them before mowing. To do that, use the deflector on your brushcutter as a guide. Place the deflector up against the base of the tree or bush and use it to guide you as you move. That protects the trunk while mowing the area around it.

Holding the Bike Handle Brushcutters

Shoulder Harness

When putting on the harness, the spring hook should be about a hand’s width below your right hip.

Suspension Eyelet

Suspend the machine from the eyelet using the spring hook.

Proper Balance

Adjust the handles and push the carrying ring along the shaft until the brushcutter is balanced. The cutting attachment should be just above the ground. The optimum cutting angle is automatically achieved when the machine is balanced.

Brushcutter Position

The correct brushcutter position is with your arms slightly bent and your wrists straight. Please refer to your product’s Instruction Manual for specific tips on using the circular saw blade.

Holding Loop Handle Trimmers

Shoulder Strap

First, put on the shoulder strap and attach the hook to the carrying ring on the machine. The hook should be about a hand’s width below your right hip.


Always hold the trimmer / brushcutter with both hands. Your left hand should be on the loop handle and your right hand on the shaft handle.


The Right Cutting Attachment

Refer to this chart to ensure you are using the right cutting attachment for your model of STIHL trimmer.

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