One of the major tasks in a molecular dynamics (MD) simulation is the selection of adequate potential functions, from which forces are derived. If the potentials do not model the behaviour of the atoms correctly, the results produced from the simulation would be useless. Three popular potentials, namely, Lennard-Jones (LJ), Morse, and embedded-atom method (EAM) potentials, were employed to model copper workpiece and diamond tool in nanometric machining. From the simulation results and further analysis, the EAM potential was found to be the most suitable of the three potentials. This is because it best describes the metallic bonding of the copper atoms; it demonstrated the lowest cutting force variation, and the potential energy is most stable for the EAM.