When 木材 Becomes 材木

Genuinely wondering, at what point does 木材 become 材木?

Like would firewood be strictly 木材?

Is any wood that has finishing on it 材木 and any wood without any polish or anything is 木材?

At a hardware store, how do you categorize pre-cut slabs of wood?


The first kanji tells you which side of the spectrum it’s on.

木材 is more in tree form.
材木 is more in “ready for use as a material” form. It’s cut into specific lengths and sizes.

Places that sell 木材 tend to be very close to the area where the chopping of trees is actually happening.
Places that sell 材木 are basically anywhere that you need wood for building.


I would imagine it’s more or less the same way we use “wood” vs “lumber” in English. I wouldn’t generally call firewood “lumber”. I mean, maybe if I needed a fire really badly and had to get creative…


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