An analytical comparison is made between two basic models of the flow of workpiece material around the edge of an orthogonal cutting tool during steady-state metal removal. Each has been the basis for assumptions in previous studies which attempt to model the machining process, but no direct comparison had been made to determine which, if either, is an appropriate model. One model assumes that a separation point exists on the rounded cutting edge while the other includes a stable build-up adhered to the edge and assumes a separation point at the outer extreme of the build-up. Theories of elastic-plastic deformation are employed to develop force predictions based on each model, and experiments are performed on 6061-T6 aluminum alloy to evaluate modeling success. The experiments utilize unusually large cutting edge radii to isolate the edge component of the total cutting forces. Results suggest that a material separation point on the tool itself does not exist and that the model that includes a stable build-up works better to describe the experimental observations.