Hahahaaaa, yes, you're ahead of me when I first started building crap. I tried to cut a front sprocket with a standard lathe tool (High Speed Steel) and basically rediscovered making fire via friction. The HSS just wouldn't touch it! Carbide and grinding are the only way to cut those bastids, and carbide, only barely works. I wish I knew the exact alloy and hardening process -- something that tough would come in handy for other stuff, too.
The build is looking good!
Regarding making female threads, it's pretty much just like making male threads, but the real key technology is to make a gauge -- a short threaded plug which you can use to determine if the female threads are to size. Make a cut, check the fit, repeat until you get nice tidy, slop-free threads, then quit cutting.