From Kenneth Beare,
Your Guide to English as 2nd Language.
English: Do or Make Explained
The two verbs 'do' and 'make' are often confused. The meanings are similar, but there are differences.
'Do' for Activities
Use the verb 'do' to express daily activities or jobs. Notice that these are usually activities that produce no physical object.
do the ironing
do the dishes
do a job
'Do' for General Ideas
Use the verb 'do' when speaking about things in general. In other words, when we do not exactly name an activity. This form is often used with the words 'something, nothing, anything, everything, etc.'
I'm not doing anything today.
He does everything for his mother.
She's doing nothing at the moment.
Important Expressions with 'Do'
There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb 'do'.
These are standard collocations (verb + noun combinations) that are used in English.
do one's best
do a favour
'Make' for Constructing, Building, Creating
Use 'make' to express an activity that creates something that you can touch.
make a cup of tea / coffee
make a mess
Important Expressions with 'Make'
There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb 'make'. In a number of cases the verb 'do' seems more appropriate. These are standard collocations (verb + noun combinations) that are used in English.
make an exception
make a telephone call
make a decision
make a mistake
make an excuse
make an effort