Since Rob wanted to know and because I didn't want to thread-jack the on-going cnc builds.
Going back about 15 years or so, I owned a 4'x8' work area ShopBot. It was my first venture into CNC machines. And it was a blast! I got it to make the router jigs I had invented and was selling. I fired things up a few days of the month to make inventory and stock the shelves.
Somethings I learned along the way. Good programming skills in terms of algorithms cuts troubleshooting WAY down. And trust me, you will be trouble shooting. I had to learn about efficient cutters, various speeds and times, ramping, material handling and holding, post production work, sound proofing (at least my head), and a whole host of things. I routed hard wood, various plastics, and aluminum. Different cutters, different speeds. Waste boards were always fun. I used screws to hold them in place and also to hold the individual parts in place, so I followed the gantry around with a tin of screws and my cordless driver. After the hole was drilled and the gantry moved on, I was right behind it with the screw gun. With aluminum I was painting cutting fluid on the cutting path with an acid brush right behind the cutter so it was ready for the next pass.
Dust collection and swarf clearing is essential. Compressed air is essential also IMHO.
There are certainly a ton of different ways to do the same things. Not having the big vacuum hold down system, I used screws. I used a shop vac hose to clean the table behind the cutter. Never did get a good dust shoe to work well.
The CNC brings two qualities to the equation. Precision and repeatability. Way too much work goes into programming and planning that doing one offs is silly with a CNC.
When I have the space I would like to get back into it. I have an application in mind for which it would be perfect and fun.
Lots of programming languages out there to get you from design to tool paths to milling. Match the machine to the application and go for it.