This paper describes a method of machining feature recognition from a freeform surface based on the relationship between unique machining patches and critical points on a component’s surface. The method uses Morse theory to extract critical surface points by defining a scalar function on the freeform surface. Features are defined by region growing between the critical points using a tool path generation algorithm. Several examples demonstrate the efficiency of this approach. The recognized machining features can be directly utilized in a variety of downstream computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing (CAM) applications, such as the automated machining process planning.