Otley engineering firm defies Covid-19 pandemic to celebrate export milestone

A family-owned precision engineering company from Otley is celebrating the milestone of producing 10,000 high-quality ‘Craftsman Capto™’ toolholders for CNC lathes, the majority of which are then exported, amid the economic uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many engineering companies around the UK have found themselves having to adapt to the challenges surrounding Covid-19. Longstanding Otley business Craftsman Tools has not been immune to these challenges, but has remained open for business, with a number of its products going towards vital industries fighting the virus.

Tim Thorburn, Commercial Manager


Founded in 1953 as a tool and cutter grinding company, Craftsman Tools has grown to become one of the country’s leading manufacturers of toolholding products, servicing a broad spectrum of the engineering industry. Key to its product line is the Craftsman Capto™ toolholder, which secures cutting tools to the lathe turret during metal machining. Allowing quick changing of tools for different operations, users of Craftsman Capto™ benefit from reduced machine downtime, increasing productivity.

Craftsman Tools’ license to manufacture the toolholders was awarded by multinational giant Sandvik Coromant, first within the UK, then in the US, and then finally globally in 1998. Today Craftsman Tools exports over 80% of all Craftsman Capto™ toolholders it produces, including to strong new markets such as China, India, and Brazil. As an SME employing under 50 people, one of the keys to Craftsman Tools’ success has been the establishment of partnerships with a number of major global companies.

Coinciding with the milestone of 10,000 Craftsman Capto™ units produced, 2020 has also seen Craftsman Tools in a renewed push to develop new products and partnerships around the world.

Managing Director, Robert Johnson, said:
“In these challenging times it is wonderful to be able to celebrate such a milestone as this. This proven Craftsman Capto™ technology is exported to dozens of countries around the world, each unit proudly labelled ‘Made in Otley’.”

Commercial Manager, Tim Thorburn, added:
By partnering with large multinational companies, Craftsman Tools continues to punch well above its weight, and this Otley SME has become a well-known industry name all over the world. Despite the uncertain economic times ahead, we are confident that we will soon be able to celebrate our 20,000th unit produced.”