PROS: If kindly treated, a maple cutting board can last at least 10 years before retiring gracefully to the kitchen wall as a chronicler of meals past. Wood has "give" and doesn't dull blades as quickly as harder surfaces do. Many chefs prefer end-grain boards (those that look like checkerboards) because they're firmer than edge-grain boards (those made with long strips of wood, like the one above) and stand up to restaurant use. For the home chef, however, end-grain boards are probably not worth the extra cost.
CONS: Despite what many people believe, wood does not contain a natural germicide that kills bacteria. It is not dishwasher-safe and must be oiled to prevent splits and cracks.
CARE: Scrub with a nonabrasive brush and hot, soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly — water that sits can create a germ-friendly environment. What's more, when water is left to evaporate, the wood's own moisture evaporates with it, which means you'll have to treat your board with oil more frequently. You can tell the board needs to be oiled when its glue lines are extremely light. Use mineral oil or raw, all-natural tung or walnut oil, both available at most health-food stores. (Don't use cooking oil — it can make the wood smell rancid.)