King Kutter manual food processor, $3.

It's quite possible that you've walked by plenty of these little King Kutter manual food machines at yard sales, without realizing how much they cost or that people on eBay really go after them.

Although there are several companies that make these machines, they all operate in pretty much the same way. You secure the unit to the counter top with the suction cup (or just plop it onto the table, in the case of the Saladmaster,) attach one of the shredding/slicing cones, and push in the food to be processed as you turn the handle.

As usual, there are a few things you have to keep in mind in order to make sure that the deal is really a deal:

Always be very careful which brand you buy, because there are different manufacturers of these machines and they all look pretty similar. You'll see slicers that look just like this King Kutter, but with different brand names on their stickers. And as with so many other items, your eBay buyers are quite fickle when it comes to these slicers' brands, which means that the slicers with "lesser" brand names will have lower closing prices. Stick with King Kutter, Saladmaster, Townecraft and Health Craft and you should be okay.

Be sure to avoid the older machines that don't have the really shiny chrome finish that bidders love. Non-chrome variants are not worth bothering with.

Check to be sure that the machine you're looking at uses a suction cup to secure to the table top. Some of the older slicers used a screw type "C" clamp to secure the machine to the table edge, and these types don't appear to sell as well as their suction cup brethren. And while you're at it....

Dried out suction cups suck! Always check the suction cup carefully to ensure that it is soft and pliable. Although these cups sometimes get damaged physically, it's much more common for them to simply dry out and get hard, rendering the machine inoperable. A machine that you can't stick to the counter top is really hard to use!

Ensure that all the cones actually fit the machine. An unusual thing about these slicers is that although the cutting cones for the different brands appear identical, the slots on the ends of the cones, where they secure to the machine, can vary. This means that although it's not likely, it is possible that you may buy a machine with one or more cones that don't fit. Always check the cones!

Finally, make sure all the parts are present! Be sure there are five cones with different patterns. And it's not unusual for the owner to lose the little metal plate that fits over the shredding cone, or the metal rod that holds that plate in place during use. Although these machines can be profitable little snacks when all parts are present, there's simply not enough profit potential in them to make buying replacement parts worth it.

TIP: Of all the parts most likely to be missing from these processors, the worst offender by far is the little rod that holds the metal guard in place. It's just so small and easy to lose track of! So, always look for this rod before you buy, and if it's not there, you'd better really whack the seller good on his asking price! After all, what good is a machine without the guard pin?

Then, go to your local hardware store and buy a piece of 1/8" diameter stainless steel rod, which is commonly available in 12" lengths for around two dollars. With a hacksaw, cut a piece about 5" long, put it into a vise and add a little bend to the last inch, and then round off both ends with a bit of sandpaper. The whole operation takes about five minutes. Nobody will know the difference. As a matter of fact, the rod in the photo below is one I made just as described here.

There you have it! This may seem like a lot of detail for such an insignificant little item, but there are so many of them out there and so many people after them on eBay that the profit angle simply can't be ignored. 

This particular King Kutter sold for $78 on eBay.

Photo of King Kutter manual food slicer processor