A stoneboat is typically made of two or three oak planks joined by a couple cross boards bolted together. The thick planks are shaped upward at the front, to avoid digging into the soil as the boat is moved forward. A chain is secured at the front, to which the pulling force is attached.

The intelligence of the design is simple: stones are heavy; lifting stones is hard on the back; rolling stones is easier than lifting them; a wooden sled that rises but two or three inches off the ground makes for easy loading of stones by rolling.