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Retired Greater Victoria consultant crafts wasted wood into libraries

Ray Young started I Used To Be A Pallet while reconnecting with his dad

Ray Young makes many wood things – all repurposed from pallets that would be otherwise wasted.

A retired management consultant, Young is the builder behind I Used To Be A Pallet and creates a diverse range of items from advent calendars to shoe shelves to tables and toy kitchens.

Even his business card holder is upcycled wood.

But among his favourite are the ultra-detailed little free libraries that match their adjacent homes.

The company was named a finalist in the Waste to Resource category of the 2023 Ecostar Awards that recognize outstanding environmental achievement and leadership on Vancouver Island.

It all started with reconnecting with his dad. They’d lived in different cities for more than 30 years when his dad moved to Greater Victoria in 2015.

“Woodworking was his hobby,” Young explained.

So he started learning a new skill and hanging out with dad.

At first, he tackled challenges from friends – what could he make from a pallet?

His little free library habit started with one for the University of British Columbia. Now they dot the landscape across the south Island and come January he plans to embark on his 20th.

They’ve grown through word of mouth. Known for his attention to detail, many are miniatures of the adjacent home, commissioned by the homeowner.

READ ALSO: Victoria’s reuse-inspired ‘community craft closet’ makes art more accessible

“These are the most challenging and once they’re done it’s a great feeling of accomplishment too,” Young said, gesturing to the miniature of a home on Hampshire Road in Oak Bay.

The house features a full front deck, with window frames, and in this case as in others, the owners seemed to appreciate the detail.

Young has a fondness for the elaborate. Though they take longer the resulting satisfaction of siding, brickwork or stone walls make up for the tedious task of etching each tiny line.

The 20 little libraries follow the form of their homes, with many heritage but modern too.

“Every neighbourhood is a different house and each house has its own challenges,” Young said. “Sometimes you think you’re done and you end up working on it a few more days because you just want to capture that last detail.”

Visit iusedtobeapallet.com to learn more about the libraries and his variety of furniture and decor.

READ ALSO: ‘It’s just magic’: Greater Victoria group thankful for one-of-a-kind hobby



Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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